PLATTSBURGH — A group of local businesspeople have grandiose plans for Plattsburgh City Beach.
Developers working on behalf of the Clinton County Destination Master Plan pitched an idea to the Common Council on Thursday night that would transform the beach area into a multi-use play land and classroom of sorts.
The plan features a mix of recreational, historical and retail attractions utilizing the existing Crete Memorial Civic Center and surrounding land in a public/private partnership.
"All of this would make Plattsburgh a better place to live and would attract many more people to the area, which is what we all want," Terry Meron told the council.
"When you are dealing with a waterfront project, there is no more exciting a project, bar none."
Meron, owner of the Comfort Inn and Suites in the Town of Plattsburgh, outlined a plan that would include hiking and running trails; canals that could be used for paddling in the summer and skating in the winter; a concert venue; museums; interpretive centers and dining; and lodging and retail locations.
The hospitality aspect of the plan would work in conjunction with the historical side, luring visitors to the area to learn more about the vast history of the region, and possibly provide a hands-on experience with interactive exhibits.
The area next to the Crete, which used to be a city landfill, would be mounded up to create a hilltop area for recreation. A small pond would be built next to the hill, and a canal loop would be dug around the perimeter of the property.
Piers would be constructed out over Lake Champlain, where a restaurant could be located, and a retail and dining strip would be added to the beach-front area.
A hotel and other commercial buildings could be built on the property, creating an attraction that would draw thousands, Meron said. The plan could even incorporate some of the land next to the beach, which is owned by the state.
"We want to take this incredible community asset and turn it into something even more wonderful," he said.
The group — which also includes businessman Robert Smith; City Historian John Krueger; City Clerk and Battle of Plattsburgh President Keith Herkalo; Building Inspector Richard Perry; businessman Steven Carpenter; engineer Scott Allen of AES Northeast; and Michele Powers of the North Country Chamber of Commerce — is looking to further develop its ideas with the blessing of the city.
Meron explained that when the group pursues funding avenues or tackle environmental issues, it needs to be a recognized arm of the city to legally proceed. He added that he believes such a project would attract major investors.
"We are still in the embryonic stages of this, and we have a lot of work to do yet," he said.
"But I don't think you can underestimate the magical aspect of that property being right there on the lake."
Herkalo said they want to be ready if and when grant funding becomes available.
"This will be good for everyone," he said.
Mayor Donald Kasprzak said he is pleased that the beach area is being targeted as a hot development site.
"It's great that the focus of this group is on one of our most prized assets," he said.
"The plan has many pluses. There is no question that it is very ambitious, but many of the proposals are certainly doable."
Kasprzak said he would support giving the group authority to move forward on the behalf of the city.
"We will have to discuss this further with the council, and they will make their decision very soon, I would imagine."
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