Those hoping to swim this season at a restored Brown’s Beach on Saratoga Lake will likely have to wait until 2015, as officials will decide at a special meeting Thursday whether to push back into next year a re-opening they hoped to have this summer.
Bad weather this spring, as well as having to meet state regulations such as the hiring lifeguards, were cited as reasons for the delay by Supervisor Edward Kinowski.
“We are still working up there. It’s a long, hard road,” he said Monday, “The hardest part is writing the rules for the folks.”
“We were all aiming for” a 2014 opening, he continued. “There was just a lot to it.”
In May, the supervisor said weather would delay the opening of the beach to swimmers, but said it would “definitely” open this summer.
The Town Board will meet at a special meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday, go into executive session to discuss the issue and then emerge to disclose its findings, Kinowski said. The supervisor said he expects the beach and a nearby boat launch and marina on the south end of the lake to open in 2015, although the beach area could be opened this winter for cold-weather sports such as skating and ice fishing.
“Next year everything on Brown’s Beach will be open,” the supervisor vowed.
Doc Brown’s Lakeside Tavern is open, and The Nest bed & breakfast opens this weekend. (A refurbished parking area is also open.) Restaurant and inn owner Anthony Panza said “it’s very disappointing” the beach will not open for swimmers this year, but understands the beach rehabilitation was a big undertaking and relied heavily on volunteers.
He also said that since his restaurant’s opening July 18 — coinciding with the opening of the Saratoga Race Course meet — “business has been unbelievable, way busier than we anticipated.”
“We are very optimistic about the future,” Panza said. “When everything is finally completed it will be absolutely amazing.”
One of the issues facing the opening of the seven-acre site to swimming is state rules mandating that it be staffed with two lifeguards on duty to watch over the 300 feet of bathing area — even though you can walk 100 feet off shore and still only be in waist-deep water. Finding lifeguards this late in the season is problematic.
“There are legalities involved and more importantly liabilities; I don’t want to put our town at risk,” Kinowski said.
“It’s mostly us meeting all the rules in the regulations,” he continued. “Even though we have been pushing and pushing … I don’t believe we can have all our lifeguards in place, all our rules in place, all our stations in place. I don’t think I can get it all legitimately in place.”
Other work details have not been completed. Much of the work is being done by volunteers such as Kinowski; Stillwater does not have a parks and recreation department.
“We are kind of far into the season,” Kinowski said. “I would rather not go down that road.”
The town purchased the seven-acre property at the southeast corner of the lake last September, paying $4.1 million to a Saratoga Springs development company.
The town has borrowed the money to pay for the property, but is hoping for an eventual $3 million reimbursement from GlobalFoundries as part of a community benefit agreement with the computer chip maker.
The payment will come if GlobalFoundries goes forward with a second computer chip plant at its Fab 8 site in Luther Forest.
Other than a state boat launch at the north end of the lake, Brown’s Beach offered the only public access on the lake from the mid-1980s until it closed to the public in 2007. In its prime, Brown’s Beach attracted families from throughout the Capital Region. In the 1950s and ’60s, an amusement park operated on the site.
It was demolished in the 1980s.