Progress is too often associated with development, whether that's a factory in a forest or resort on a lake. It's not often that a parcel targeted for development, no matter how beloved, gets saved. But that may be about to happen with Brown's Beach, a beautiful former public beach with a rich history located on Route 9P at the southern end of Saratoga Lake. Last week the Stillwater town supervisor signed a letter of intent to purchase it from its private owner pending negotations.
The property, which featured a sandy beach , swimming, boating, picnicking, dining and an amusement park, was enjoyed by residents from Saratoga County and all over the Capital Region for almost 100 years until it closed in 2007.
And for the last 25 years, it has been the subject of development plans -- first for condos, then for a big hotel and resort complex. Either would have cut off public access, altered the open view and feel of the lake at that point, and put more stress on the lake's water quality (already a concern that caused us to support a proposal 10 years ago to make the lake the city of Saratoga Springs' drinking water supply, with extra protections for it).
Fortunately, both plans failed to get the necessary financing or approvals, and stalled. And now Stillwater town officials, who, like the residents, were never keen on the prospect of developing Brown's Beach , are interested in buying it and reopening it as a public beach -- the only one on the lake.
In fact, that's what they've said they wanted to do ever since the beach closed. But the only way to ensure it was for the town to purchase it, and the town didn't have an extra million or two, which was the asking price last time the property was listed for sale.
But the town has since come into some money with the arrival of the Globalfoundries plant. That project is going to put additional development pressure on a county already experiencing a lot of it. Preserving an important piece of Saratoga's history, and continuing its old use in the future, would be a great use of the money.