Officials eye smart growth for Caroga Lake

CAROGA – Caroga Lake could look a bit different in the future if local officials follow one of three proposed plans for its development.

Caroga Lake was one of five Adirondack Park communities, and the only one in the local area, chosen to directly work with the Hamlets 3 initiative, said Roger Trancik, architect with Urban Design Consultants

Hamlets 3 “presents a planning and design model for smart growth of hamlets in the Adirondack Park,” according to the website for the initiative –

The principles of smart growth can be used to help local communities plan sustainable development, the website said.

According to the guidebook for Hamlets 3, smart growth – which balances economic development and preservation of the environment – has two important benefits

1.) Communities can integrate “land suitable for development into the fabric of the existing hamlet,” thus concentrating resources.

2.) The idea complements the protection of forests, farmlands, and other open spaces by avoiding visually unappealing and resource inefficient sprawl and strip development.

Three development plans utilizing smart growth were shown to members of the town Planning Board and Supervisor Ralph Ottuso on?Thursday.

Trancik, who directed the work on Hamlets 3, said all the plans would help to centralize Caroga Lake and work in new establishments, while avoiding the sprawl that has accompanied economic development in many areas.

All three of the plans also would maintain a rural look with a multi-use town center and year-round recreational options, he said.

The plans are:

  • Plan A, which would keep the carousel and the dance hall at?Sherman’s Park?- an amusement park which has been closed for many years -while setting space aside for a large park with a new hotel.
  • Plan B would keep the carousel at?Sherman’s, but replace the dance hall with a hotel and restaurant complex.?Space also would be set aside set aside for a flood control pond and “infill” housing.
  • Plan C would keep the dance hall and carousel, with a more “urban-looking” central park and a hotel located across the canal.

Trancik said none of the plans or anything suggested at the meeting are final.

Trancik would not provide a copy of the plans to The Leader-Herald.

Ottuso said the ideas in Hamlets 3 are great, but officials and businesses in?Caroga Lake would need to actually bring them to life.

“I think that is the biggest hurdle you are going to obtain in bringing the Hamlet 3 project to life,” Ottuso said. “…There is a long road to get to that point.”

Following the presentation of the plans, officials exchanged ideas regarding the suggestions made.

One topic that came up was a possible need for low-income housing.

However, Sean Geraghty, Fulton County senior planner, did not consider it an issue.

“Off the lakes, I don’t think affordability is an issue,” Geraghty said.

Ottuso also mentioned the idea of revitalizing Sherman’s Park. Ottuso said during a special event there one weekend, more than 1,000 people came to ride the Ferris wheel.

Trancik said there would be a symposium meeting in the future to review the suggestions. The date has not been set.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation’s Adirondack Park Community Smart Growth Grant Program provided the funding for Hamlets 3.

According to the guidebook, Hamlets 3 is the third installment of a series that builds on two prior studies from the 1980s. Hamlets 1 educated people and agencies – especially those outside the Adirondack?park – about the hamlets. Hamlets 2 provided officials and local groups with ideas about revitalizing the hamlets in the park.

Arthur Cleveland can be reached at [email protected]

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