Saratoga County

Round Lake seeks state help to solve boat launch issue

Village officials have turned to state legislators for help in finding a way for the public to again

Village officials have turned to state legislators for help in finding a way for the public to again use an informal boat launch off of Route 9 — but it won’t happen in time for today’s opening of the 2010 fishing season.

Between high water in Round Lake and high-speed traffic on the highway, village officials say the launch spot is unsafe. But they contend that they don’t have the money — or possibly the authority — to address the problem.

Village officials stood their ground at a meeting Wednesday, even as sport fishermen expressed their frustration with the village’s decision this winter to post the land against trespassing.

“The village can’t condone use of that boat launch. It’s unsafe,” said Village Attorney Tom Peterson.

Representatives of state Sen. Roy McDonald, R-Saratoga, and Assemblyman Tony Jordan, R-Jackson, attended the meeting and said they will try to help.

The launch spot on village-owned land has been there for decades, and on summer weekends there can be 20 or more cars parked on the shoulder of Route 9.

Currently, the launch is almost entirely covered with water, as the lake level has risen steadily in recent years due to siltation behind the beaver dams at the mouth of the 321-acre lake. The village’s shore is one of the few spots where there’s public access to the water, but it is located immediately off a 55 mph highway.

Peterson said the village posted the land for safety, not to keep fishermen from going out on the lake.

“We simply don’t know what else to do right now,” he said. “We simply can’t allow that use. It’s very unsafe.”

He noted that two people were killed in a crash on Route 9 a few years ago when they slowed down to look at swans.

Ron Rybicki, president of the Saratoga County Council of Fish and Game Clubs, said he was somewhat reassured.

“There’s been all kinds of rumors flying around,” he said. “I’m reassured it’s not a sportsmen’s issue, it’s a safety issue on the highway.”

Mayor Dixie Lee Sacks said she’s been concerned about the safety of the launch and about rising lake levels for a decade but has been unable to get help from the state Department of Transportation, which controls access to and speed limits on Route 9.

The launch is potentially a big liability for a village of just 600 people, Sacks said: “Nobody wants to take the property. Nobody wants to help us.”

One boat launch user, John Reardon, said the village should work to get the speed limit lowered — something only the DOT has the power to do and generally does only after extensive study. “With the [computer] chip factory coming in, Route 9 is only going to get busier,” Reardon said.

Kevin Zacharewicz, who owns Zacks Sports on Route 9, urged the village to try to get Saratoga County, the town of Malta or some other entity to come up with money to address the problem.

“I know it’s not a park, but it should be a park,” Zacharewicz said.

The town of Malta and the conservation group Saratoga PLAN own land on the other side of Round Lake that is intended for a future park, but that park has yet to be developed and may not be for several more years.

“That may be the solution long-term. The problem is all the solutions take time,” said Malta Parks and Recreation Director Audrey Ball.

McDonald’s and Jordan’s representatives said they will set up a meeting with DOT and Department of Environmental Conservation officials to discuss the situation.

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