Adirondack Council
Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve
Protect the Adirondacks !
Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter
Upper Saranac Foundation

For Release May 13, 2024

Contact: Raul Aguirre, Adirondack Council, 518-873-2240
Claudia Braymer, Protect the Adirondacks, 518-251-2700
Roger Downs, Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter, 518-426-9144
David Gibson, Adirondack Wild, 518-469-4081
Tom Swayne, Upper Saranac Foundation, 518- 796-1052

Groups Call  on APA to Bring USL Marina to Public Hearing

Ray Brook, NY – Five organizations concerned about the size, scope, and regional impacts of the proposed USL Marina on a small pond near Fish Creek Pond Campground are calling on the New York State Adirondack Park Agency (APA) to hold an adjudicatory public hearing on the application. The marina’s application is set to come before the APA Board at its May 16th monthly meeting in Ray Brook. The decision of whether to hold a public hearing is up to the Agency’s eleven voting decision-makers, or Board members.

The proposed commercial marina is a radical departure from the small boat livery that was formerly at the site of the proposed project.  The new proposal covers a vast area of water and shoreland devoted to commercial use by large watercraft. As proposed, the marina is likely to have significant adverse impacts on Lower Fish Creek Pond and on nearby, narrow channels connecting the Pond to Fish Creek, Upper Saranac Lake, and Follensby Clear Pond.

The proposed marina’s location on a small, 80-acre waterbody, the number of proposed boat slips (92), the number of motorboats proposed for rental, and the distance the slips, buoys, and lights would extend into the narrow channel all pose substantial adverse impacts on existing aquatic uses, public safety, wetland and wildlife resources, water quality, and neighboring private landowners and public Forest Preserve.

Therefore, APA should hold an adjudicatory hearing on APA Project 2022-0218 because the proposed marina project meets all of APA’s regulatory criteria for a hearing, including:

  • Project size and complexity measured by cost, area, effect on localities or uniqueness of resources affected. Here, the project is sizeable due to its inclusion of four large docks that extend 160 feet, 172 feet, 188 feet and 196 feet into the water, and its proposal to allow for docking and use of 92 motorboats on this small waterbody.
  • Degree of public interest as evidenced by communication in Agency files. There is a very high degree of public interest reflected by environmental groups, a lake association and the 130 community members who since 2022 have already commented to the Town of Santa Clara Planning Board and now to APA concerning this proposal.
  • The presence of significant issues. There are many significant issues in the USL Marina application including impacts to wetlands, boating safety, shoreline conditions, and the lack of a waterbody carrying capacity study. Such a study is required by the 2019 Saranac Lake Wild Forest Unit Management Plan and should be conducted as part of an adjudicatory public hearing.
  • The possibility that approval be conditioned only upon major modifications or substantial conditions, andthe possibility that information presented at a public hearing would be of assistance to the agency in its review;

The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, or DEC, has ruled the marina  application incomplete because it lacks documentation about pre-existing conditions and number of watercraft at the former boat livery, and it insufficiently examines boat traffic impacts. This information is needed by APA in its own review and is among the many pieces of information that should be evaluated through a public hearing.

“The Department of Environmental Conservation is not yet satisfied with the quality of the information presented by the applicant, and neither should the APA,” said Adirondack Wild’s David Gibson. “That missing information can only come to light through  testimony at a public hearing.”

“The proposed marina project has absurdly large piers for such a relatively small waterbody: the proposed piers will be nearly two times the maximum length of 100 feet allowed for docks on Lake George (45 square miles), a waterbody that is 374 times the size of Lower Fish Creek Pond (approx. 77 acres). The currently proposed project must be denied by APA through an adjudicatory hearing due to its adverse impacts on the Park’s natural, scenic, aesthetic, ecological, wildlife and recreational resources,” said Claudia Braymer, Deputy Director, Protect the Adirondacks.

“The current proposed project warrants an Adjudicatory Hearing to gain essential facts, review evidence, to allow expert testimony and to hear fact-based concerns about how this project may impact the ecosystem, water quality and public enjoyment of the area,” stated Tom Swayne, President, Upper Saranac Foundation.

“The  Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan clearly states that ‘the water resources of the Adirondacks are critical to the integrity of the Park. For the APA to continue to ignore their obligation to determine the carrying capacity of the Park’s water bodies makes a mockery of their primary duty to protect the natural resources of the Park,” stated Roger Downs, Conservation Director, Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter.