Plattsburgh working on plans to improve waterfront

Published: May. 10, 2019 at 5:37 PM EDT
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Waterfront business can mean big tourism bucks, but there have been challenges over the years to make that happen in Plattsburgh. Now a new effort is in the planning stages to bring businesses back to the shore.

Plattsburgh has a rich history of waterfront access that can be seen from photographs from the past. "Plattsburgh, as it grew, always grew from the waterfront because Lake Champlain was the super highway of its day," said Matt Boire, a local history buff.

But over the years the landscape has changed. In the '60s and '70s, much of the commerce and industry along the shore dried up.

"It is under utilized. Not as many people go down there with their families, their kids as we might like, because there are limited options -- which is what we are trying to work on and make it more of an attractive place for people," said Matthew Miller with the city's Community Development Office.

He says they are working on plans to get grant money for water and riverfront developments, something he thinks the state will help with because of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative.

"If we can present to the state ideas for complementary projects that enhance those DRI projects, we should have a pretty good chance of getting those applications funded," Miller said.

The problem isn't generating ideas, Miller says, it's accessing the space.

"The city has a lot of lake frontage, but so much of it is occupied by a rail cut or by private property that the amount of space that we have for the public to enjoy is rather limited, so the space we do have we want to do it right," he said. "Something that people might not recognize -- you've got the Delaware and Hudson railroad yard down here by the lake shore and this is the present day MLD that sits out here."

One of the ideas is moving the MLD, or Municipal Lighting Department, further inland and re-purposing the space.

"We did have a best use study done. The result of that is either public recreation city space or high-end residential development," Miller said.

They also are looking to make changes to Wilcox Dock and the Plattsburgh City Marina. "We have a waiting list for our slips and our anchorages, so it's very popular," Miller said.

Another improvement includes building the mixed-use building in the Durkee Street Lot to overlook the Saranac River.

City officials will be discussing some of these preliminary plans for the riverfront and streetscape at a public meeting at City Hall on Monday at 6