North Elba continues to improve its parks

Work was continuing on the new beach volleyball and pickleball courts next to the North Elba Athletic Fields in Lake Placid when this photo was taken on July 29. The town of North Elba received a Local Enhancement and Advancement Fund grant of $48,000 in November 2022 to go toward new fencing to separate the beach volleyball and pickleball courts from the lacrosse fields and to install new gates to keep the town’s landfill and construction and debris pit areas more secure. (News photo — Andy Flynn)

Kudos to North Elba officials — including the supervisor, Town Council and North Elba Park District employees — for developing new uses for town venues, specifically at the North Elba Show Grounds and the North Elba Athletic Fields. There’s a real sense of community when people gather here.

The show grounds are already established as a destination for residents and visitors, especially for community events when the horse shows are not active, such as Lake Placid Community Day, the I love BBQ and Music Festival, summer day camp for local children and Lake Placid Classic Half Marathon and 10K. There’s plenty of parking, and there are public restrooms. Plus, it’s a great place to walk your dog, and the view is amazing — the High Peaks, ski jumps, Whiteface Mountain and the airport.

With fencing going up around the new beach volleyball and pickleball courts at the athletic fields — known as the lacrosse fields — it’s clear that the town officials’ vision to make this area more accessible for casual recreation — not just lacrosse and rugby — is coming into focus.

There is a lot of potential to make the athletic fields more like a public park. If town officials chose, and if they could find the funding, development of this area could someday include public restrooms. Why not build a pavilion that can be used for picnics and gatherings, such as the ones at Mount Sabattis in Long Lake and the municipal park in Tupper Lake?

It’s a beautiful location. The view of the ski jumps and the High Peaks is spectacular. In the fall, it’s a meeting place for local wild turkeys and migrating Canada geese. It could also be a great meeting place for residents and visitors throughout the year.

Lake Placid News Editor Andy Flynn’s dog Arabella, a 5-year-old chiweenie (chihuahua/dachshund mix) explores the North Elba Show Grounds dog park on Sunday, Aug. 13. (News photo — Andy Flynn)

Here’s a question: Could the relatively new off-leash dog park at the back of the show grounds be moved to the athletic fields? The current one is set up with temporary fencing, which is taken down during the Lake Placid Horse Shows and replaced with a horse tent. A dog park at the athletic fields could have permanent fencing — never shutting down — with unique features that would make it a destination unto itself, adding so much to the quality of life for residents and the quality of visit for tourists.

We love the fact that the town has set up this dog park so dogs can run around and socialize without being leashed. But some of the users we’ve interviewed said they’d like to see permanent fencing (some dogs have jumped over or crawled underneath the temporary fencing), more frequent emptying of the trash can (flies multiply quickly where the poop bags are deposited if they are not removed daily), more than one bench for humans and a double gate system such as those found at other dogs parks (so when one dog is let in, another dog doesn’t run out).

Supervisor Derek Doty told the Lake Placid News that he’d like to see the dog park look more professional. Great! Now it’s time to do it. Creating a more professional dog park with permanent fencing — whether it stays at the show grounds or moves to the athletic fields or another location — will take time, money, organization and community support. Users of the current dog park are praising the venue; it gives their dogs more opportunities for socialization and helps with training puppies. We see it as an asset for those living here and visiting.

In any case, we see an opportunity for the town to create a more open dialogue with the public about how to best use the show grounds and the athletic fields for the community’s needs (including tourism) — and what could be developed for the future. To the Town Council: Please tell us how the public can get involved and help.

Tom Trapanese, of Lake Placid, sits with his dogs — Poppy, a 15-year-old chihuahua, and Gili, a 1-year-old chihuahua, pit bull and cattle dog mix — at the North Elba Show Grounds dog park on Monday, Aug. 14. (News photo — Andy Flynn)

Amanda Birchenough-Morrell, of Saranac Lake, plays with her dog Angus, an 11-month-old English springer spaniel, at the North Elba Show Grounds dog park on Monday, Aug. 14. (News photo — Andy Flynn)

Tom Trapanese walks in the North Elba Show Grounds dog park on Monday, Aug. 14 as his dogs — Poppy, a 15-year-old chihuahua, and Gili, a 1-year-old chihuahua, pit bull and cattle dog mix — play with Amanda Birchenough-Morrell’s dog Angus, an 11-month-old English springer spaniel. (News photo — Andy Flynn)

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