By KIM SMITH DEDAM
---- — SARANAC LAKE — Saranac Lake had good news for Adirondack Park Agency commissioners in regard to village planning.
Mayor Clyde Rabideau presented the APA’s “Spotlight” during an afternoon session designed to help better inform land-use regulators about what communities need from the agency in terms of planning.
Rabideau said they have “the greatest small town in all of America,” one he has dubbed the “Capital of the Adirondacks.”
The goal of village planning, he said, is to make a sustainable hamlet area.
Saranac Lake was one of the few Adirondack communities to show population growth in the most recent census, adding about 300 people.
“We are now leveraging our resources for future growth,” the mayor said.
He took issue briefly with APA’s regulatory reform that allows density expansion on building lots within 3 miles of the hamlet.
“Like other communities, we are challenged by the housing stock that we have (inside the hamlet),” Rabideau said, suggesting the regulation, meant to provide incentive for workforce housing, is actually counterproductive in hamlets to “infill incentive,” which is the practice of finding uses for older buildings.
But Saranac Lake has met success in increasing new business, he reported.
Two new biotech companies, the Community Store, the Adirondack Carousel and several new restaurants have opened in the past year.
“Hamlets are special places; they serve as service and growth centers in the (Adirondack) park,” the mayor observed, “and discourage the haphazard dispersion in open-space areas.”
Saranac Lake completed $13 million in water-system upgrades, a move the mayor said was forced upon the community by state agencies.
“We had to. We have new wells with three times the capacity that we need right now.”
The village is also working toward a comprehensive land-use plan to include an interconnected set of trails for walking, biking, skiing and snowshoeing between recreation areas around downtown neighborhoods.
Rabideau said the trail system will highlight the beauty that surrounds Saranac Lake.
“We consider our Adirondack Park location to be an asset and an advantage for generations to come.”
Asked if the village has a template to offer for moving other communities toward sustainability, Rabideau said the key is in the people.
“We have a dynamic community not afraid to raise their hand, stand up and be counted.”
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