Plans for what would become the only public beach on Saratoga Lake, to be located at the site of the old Waterfront Restaurant, were revealed Monday evening at City Hall.
The beach would be part of the Waterfront Park development on 4.6 acres of land on Crescent Avenue the city purchased three years ago. The property was once the site of the restaurant and its docks.
The last public beach on the lake was Brown’s Beach at the southern end of the lake but that has closed. Kaydeross amusement park also had a popular public beach on the lake but the private park closed more than two decades ago and the Waters Edge condominium development was built in its place,
The park master plan, which was created by the LA Group of Saratoga Springs, estimates the project would cost the city $1.3 million. The plan includes a fishing and boating pier, parking, picnic pavilions, a playground, rest rooms and a fenced-off public beach that could accommodate about 80 swimmers.
“This piece of property is certainly a jewel for the city,” said Michael Ingersoll of the LA Group.
Ingersoll said the development could be built in two stages. He said after a presentation before the City Council that if the project were approved this fall, work could start in the spring. The beach could possibly be ready by late next summer or the following spring.
The $1.3 million for the waterfront project is part of the city’s proposed 2009 capital budget that is currently being debated by the council.
Public Safety Commissioner Ronald Kim said he thought the waterfront park project looked very nice but said the city has a greater need for a new public safety building than a beach.
Kim said he also thinks a fire station or an emergency medical services station on the far east side of the city is also needed more urgently than the beach project.
Mayor Scott Johnson said the city’s waterfront property was purchased almost three years ago but has not been developed so city residents can access to the lake.
The property was purchased through the city’s Open Space Bond Act for $2 million. Johnson said more than $700,000 of the waterfront development project could also qualify for bond act funding.
Johnson said the city’s Open Space Advisory Committee has recommended developing the waterfront property as soon as possible.
Former city Mayor Valerie Keehn said during the public hearing on the proposed 2009 capital budget that the public safety building, which has been proposed for a city parking lot on Maple Avenue behind City Hall, has been the number one capital budget project for two years. Since the new Republican-controlled administration took over the City Council this year, she said, funding for the much-needed station has been dropped from the capital budget.
“The public has been duped,” Keehn said. She said the new administration is displaying “fiscal irresponsibility.”
Johnson said the public safety building was not included in the proposed capital budget because it did not have support of the majority of the City Council.
Jim Martinez, a city resident, said he was on one of the earlier open space committees recommending the Open Space Bond Act of 2005 that funded the waterfront property purchase.
He applauded the plans to create a beach and fishing pier on Saratoga Lake.
“First we lost Kaydeross Park and more recently Brown’s Beach,” Martinez said. He said the waterfront park would be wonderful for city residents.
The City Council will hold one more public hearing on the proposed 2009 capital budget on Wednesday. The council is expected to adopt the $5 million in capital funding projects, which include such things as a $750,000 generator for the city’s water treatment plant, by Sept. 15.
Reach Gazette reporter Lee Coleman at 587-1780 or at [email protected]