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North Elba may upgrade parking area

SARANAC LAKE - The North Elba Town Council last week began revisiting an eight-year-old plan to expand and upgrade the parking area at the Jackrabbit Cross-Country Ski Trail entrance on McKenzie Pond Road.

Plans first came before the board several years ago when Adirondack Ski Touring Council Executive Director Tony Goodwin told the board that the limited parking space at the trailhead was turning into a safety hazard.

Back then, Goodwin had the board's support and an agreement with the highway department to receive in-kind services to supplement a grant - but the grant never panned out.

The problems at the trailhead have not gone away. The parking area is a few miles outside of Saranac Lake on McKenzie Pond Road - across the street from the entrance to the Black Fly Softball fields. Goodwin says past attempts to use space owned by Black Fly have been unsuccessful.

Now, Goodwin says the Ski Touring Council is willing to pay for the work - if the town of North Elba is willing to lend some manpower.

At least week's town board meeting, Goodwin updated the board on his progress. He says the council will raise private funds if the town were to provide a road crew and equipment for excavation.

Goodwin is hopeful that he will obtain an easement with Black Fly to use a small portion of their land.

Supervisor Roby Politi supported the idea, but asked that Goodwin sit down with town attorney Ron Briggs to make sure the town wouldn't be working on private land.

"We can't be doing work on private lands that will increase that land's value in any way," Politi said.

Highway Superintendent Larry Straight also expressed concerns about working on private lands. But he says the cars are precariously parked in the wintertime and are in risk of being clipped by oncoming snowplows.

Goodwin says that if the town can't perform work on the private land, then the ski council will explore the possibility of hiring an independent contractor for that portion of the work.

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