LAKE PLACID - The national canoe and kayak organization has decided to loan the public a specialty dock that allows disabled people to access their vessels.
US Canoe/Kayak will give the dock to the village prior to its annual June regatta, and the village can keep it for the entire summer. US Canoe/Kayak would still own the dock and reclaim it later. The village board decided Monday, April 7 to accept the dock.
Mac Hickox of US Canoe/Kayak wrote in a letter to the village that he saw a disabled competitor enter the water at last year's event.
"Presently, for individuals with a disability, there is no access to Mirror Lake via a wheel chair," Hickox wrote. "I didn't realize this until I saw multiple World Champion Christine Gauthier of Canada get out of her wheel chair and crawl across the grass and sand to her boat at the water's edge prior to competing in her event at the Lake Placid International Regatta."
Jared Steenberge, operations manager of the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, has helped facilitate communication between the US Canoe/Kayak and the village for the regatta.
"This brings awareness to the sport, and they host a training camp with us every summer," Steenberge said. "We're just trying to bring in as many sports as we can."
Steenberge explained the specifics at Monday night's board meeting.
"So they have access to this dock that can be placed at your discretion (in Mirror Lake)," Steenberge said. "They said it could be shipped here at any time and be installed."
The small dock, 5 feet by 32 feet, is created by the company AccuDock. Steenberge said it would have anchors to secure it to the bottom of the lake. It's specially designed to provide a disabled person easy access to a lake.
"Clearly, trying to get over the grass is hard for people with disabilities," Mayor Craig Randall said. "So some walkway would need to be provided."
Village Trustee Jason Leon said the dock could also be useful to other villagers.
"This extends beyond the event and could provide access to others in the community," Leon said.
"Some of our military personnel with Homeward Bound might get some use of it, too," Randall said. Homeward Bound Adirondacks is an organization based in Saranac Lake trying to establish Adirondack retreat and respite programs for recent war veterans.
Trustee Peter Holderied raised the question to the board about how they would protect the dock from anyone who might vandalize it. Steenberge suggested a police patrol of the area. Randall said the board will have to look further into the vandalism issue.
The board decided the dock would be placed at the beach park where the kayakers have entered the lake in the past, across from the tennis courts.
"The canoe/kayak event has grown significantly over time," Randall said. "I think that growth has attracted US Canoe/Kayak."