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Public Input Sought On Beach Development

WAMC/Pat Bradley

A group that is working on a coordinated future vision for the Plattsburgh and Clinton County region opened the city beach facilities for free last weekend to get residents and tourists to comment on potential development plans and list their priorities for waterfront improvement.

The Plattsburgh City Beach is one of the longest in the country, but many say it’s underutilized. A civic center adjacent to the beach hosts occasional home shows and events. The beach property has a couple snack bars and a kayak rental.  There have been some plans put forth for potential conference center and hotel developments and boardwalks, but none have yet come to fruition.

Vision2Action has outlined key areas for the region’s future economic stability, including recreation infrastructure. Waterfront development is a priority. Vision2Action opened the beach to get people to stop by and write down their ideas for the beach.

The rain held off for most of the morning and easels were being filled with comments by beachgoers.  Vision2Action event planner Paul Sands found that some trends were apparent.  “A lot of people want more recreation opportunities. There were a few comments about more entertainment. Those kinds of things. So we’ll collect all of these and the city, the county and the town will all examine them and then try and decide the future.”

Vision2Action Steering Committee Chair John Jablonski says the group has identified four areas — transportation, recreation, education and the arts — as critical for the future economy and quality of life for the region.  He says the waterfront is a huge part of the recreation sector.  “The city, the town and the county are working together and we’re pouring these ideas into the big funnel and then a smaller group will take those ideas, sift them and report back to the community in the next few months: Here’s what we heard, here’s what we think what we’re going to do. Through that I think we’ll come out with a sense of shared vision for the development of our waterfront.”

Plattsburgh Mayor Jim Calnon says the area is making an investment for both local residents and tourists.  “It’s not just about the beach but it’s all aspects of the waterfront. It’s the river, it’s Durkee Street, it’s the marina, Wilcox Dock.  I guess in one sense it’s kind of a simple concept. We have some beautiful natural resources, how can we best use them? But I think the details are the kinds of things that will make you happy and how we develop these things is what we really want to hear.”

Plattsburgh Town Councilman Michael Cashman noted that waterfront development goes beyond the beach property.  “The waterfront development is one of those things that directly relates to recreation within the region. And that is a quality of life indicator. But it also has an economic impact as well.”

Tina Sullivan of Plattsburgh was curious about the activities.  “I’d like to see a boardwalk where you could go shopping!”  “My name is Gigi Fliss. I think they should do a lot of music.”  

Congressman Bill Owens stopped by and noted that the largest number of visitors to the beach are Canadian, and acting to enhance tourism will help the region.  “If you begin to draw more people to the waterfront it means that you’ll have more activity downtown. You’ll have more activity at the mall. You’ll have more activity at the local  restaurants. You will simply increase by critical mass the level of activity in all of our areas.”

The city of Plattsburgh plans to begin a formal visioning project in a few weeks.

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