LAKE SARANAC – Berkeley Green will be closed this week as construction workers connect underground water and sewer lines from the Village Mains on Main Street to the new public restrooms planned in the adjacent Pontiac parking lot.
The village’s community development manager, Jamie Konkoski, said work could start as early as this morning, but the contracting companies – MJ Raymond and Luck Brothers – have also listed Tuesday and Wednesday as potential alternative start dates.
“It all depends on whether they have the material,” she says. “That’s what really matters – do they have everything they need?”
Either way, she said contractors plan to reopen the park by the end of the day on Friday.
Village manager Erik Stender said all work should be completed before the Gratefully Yours concert the Saranac Hotel is hosting on the green at 6 p.m. Friday night.
Stender said crews dug Broadway two weeks ago to connect to pipes there, but found they couldn’t run it in two different places. So, after checking with the engineers that it would work, they found an alternate route to a fire hydrant line at the top of the park on Main Street. This week, he said, crews will dig from the fire line through the park to the bathrooms.
Work on the toilets began in mid-July but halted earlier this month as crews ran into problems with rubble – when digging to create the building’s foundation, Stender said they found the remains of the Pontiac Theater, which burned down years ago on the site where the parking lot now stands.
Some business owners on this stretch of road attended a village board meeting earlier this month to tell the village that the prolonged construction in the disused parking lot was hurting their businesses.
Last week, the village painted three temporary parking spaces on Broadway adjacent to the park.
Dan Sporn, owner of toy store Goody Goody, was one of the business owners who attended the meeting earlier this month. On Sunday, he said he hadn’t seen a big increase in business since they were added four days earlier, but he was glad the village had done something about it.
“I’m happy with the parking spaces” Sporn said.
Administrator Kelly Brunette had suggested the temporary parking spots at the meeting earlier this month, and Stender said a DPW crew painted them on Thursday in hopes of “ease the minds of business owners.”
These three parking spaces are temporary – until the larger parking lot reopens. Stender said Broadway was too narrow to make them permanent.
He said there was parking there, when Broadway Video was where Borracho Taco is now. But they were removed around 2008 because the village considered them “unsafe,” he said.
The three temporary parking spaces were heavily used on Sunday.
Marco Carbone was parked at one of the locations and was pulling a laundry basket out of his car. He just moved from Gouverneur to an apartment across the street last week and he was glad there were spaces right outside his front door.
“It’s definitely more convenient and I appreciate that,” says Carbon. “But I know some locals here that I’ve spoken to, they think it’s a bit dangerous.”
The street becomes quite narrow with cars parked along the edge.
Carbone said he can’t wait for the Pontiac parking lot to reopen. Stender said the village is also eager to reopen overnight parking.
The public restrooms are part of the village’s larger Berkeley Green Park project, funded through a $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant and tax incentive package awarded to Saranac Lake by the state in 2018. The village received $4.3 million for public projects through the DRI, and Konkoski estimated the two-bathroom building would cost about $467,000. The bathrooms will not be completed and open for use until next year.
Updates on Berkeley Green’s work will be posted on the village’s social media platforms and on the DRI project page on the village’s website, saranaclakeny.gov/dri.
Questions regarding this work should be directed to Konkoski at 518-891-4150 ext. 235 or at [email protected], or at the DPW at 518-891-4160.