SARANAC LAKE - A project nearly two decades in the making came to a close last fall, and a gathering of officials and volunteers has been planned to commemorate the occasion.
The River Corridor Commission will host a reception Saturday, June 6 to celebrate the completion of the Saranac Riverwalk. The dedication ceremony will take place at the village offices starting at 2 p.m.
The multi-use path - which follows the Saranac River as it winds through downtown Saranac Lake - began as a concept in 1992 after several residents expressed a desire to clean up portions of the river and make it more accessible to the community.
Through a collaborative effort between the River Corridor Commission and the Saranac Lake Community Development Office, officials acquired a number of state and federal grants to fund major portions of the path. Numerous fundraising events also provided financial support to the endeavor.
The Riverwalk project, along with the Mt. Pisgah Lodge and Union Depot restoration, helped Saranac Lake obtain All-America status in 1998.
River Corridor Commission President Jim Sausville said the ceremony is a culmination of a 17-year effort to reclaim the Saranac River and make it more accessible for residents and tourists.
"The purpose of this event is to celebrate the river and all of the people that have made the Riverwalk possible," Sausville said.
"It's been such a cool progression," he added. "If you remember back, the river along in town was pretty much abandoned. Through the 90s we started to look to the river and think about access for boating and fishing and strolling, so it's been a wonderful change."
Sausville said the transformation of the waterfront along the river is nothing short of a miracle.
"The area has changed so dramatically in the 15-plus years we've been working down there," he said. "It was really a bit of a dump. It wasn't a friendly place."