Following a year of developing marina regulations and numerous public hearings, the town of Santa Clara Planning Board is prepared to make a decision on the proposed expansion of the Upper Saranac Lake Marina — formerly Hickok’s. Despite resistance from nearby residents, the planned expansion appears to be moving ahead.
Neighbors of the marina on Fish Creek Pond are contending that the proposed covered docks would reduce usable space on the water, introduce new hazards, and increase traffic in a bottleneck between a popular state campground and the midsection of Upper Saranac.
Over 90 people either wrote, spoke, or have signed petitions opposing the expansion. Concerns included the excessive size of the expansion (94 docking slips), loss of character to the waterway, and environmental concerns that included wave action, shoreline degradation, and overuse of the pond.
The Planning Board has delayed the vote on the special use permit until their next meeting on July 12. It is anticipated that a vote approving the expansion will move forward with more specific language and stipulations on the permit. The Planning Board is required to decide prior to a July 25 deadline.
The Upper Saranac Foundation (USF) has been actively participating and providing input to better protect water quality, focusing on aquatic invasive species (AIS) spread prevention, pollution control, and environmental impacts.
The marina project, if approved by Santa Clara, would still require state Adirondack Park Agency and Department of Environmental Conservation permits.
This marina expansion, along with a similar marina expansion on Lower Saranac Lake proposed by the same owner, will likely increase attention on the question concerning the state’s responsibility to study the carrying capacity of Adirondack lakes — an assessment of the impacts of boat traffic and use — in order to quantify what would constitute overuse.
USF embraces an evaluation of the carrying capacity of our water bodies to withstand various watercraft uses and boater traffic prior to permitting the expansion of or allowing for new marinas; an assessment would measure the impacts from use, boat size, noise, speeds, wakes, and wave action.
While USF supports active and viable marinas in the watershed, we feel it’s in the best interest of water quality to ensure that marinas operate with care for natural resources and that there is a comprehensive environmental review to prevent any potential negative impacts.