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Two Steps back, One Step Forward – City beach to reinstate swimming

March 24th, 2006 · No Comments · News

Apparently the TourPro wasn’t alone in questioning the closing of the Plattsburgh City Beach to swimming this summer. After deciding to cull lifeguards from the beach budget, it seems now that revenues from other recreational programs will be sufficient to support swimming at the beach. Mayor Dan Stewart announced that swimming would now be included in the beach’s inventory of activities, albeit at a reduced schedule and capacity.

In addition to using the financial windfall of the Indoor Soccer program, the city’s recreational department would look to finding other revenue opportunities at the beach facility. Finding a concert promoter to organize an event at the now underutilized Crete Center and exploring the possibility of a recreational-vehicle park were floated as potential other sources of funding. (There are still people that think a gas-guzzling, electric generator-running, behemoth is a viable market niche to pursue)

In response to criticism that the city, which is dubbed “The Lake City,” had turned its back on the waterfront by eliminating swimming, Stewart said that is not so.

He noted that the city has opened the former marina and Sailor’s Beach on Plattsburgh Air Force Base, granted access and installed a boat launch at Wilcox Dock and cleaned up the area at Plattsburgh Boat Basin.

“If anyone wants to challenge that we are not the Lake City, they can think again,” Stewart said. [via Press Republican]

Last I saw, the former Plattsburgh Air Force Base beach was closed to access and though it is ‘open’, unless there is lifeguarding this will remain a ‘no swimming’ area. Likewise with the new Wilcox Dock, site of intensive environmental ‘remediation’ just a few years ago. (Proposed Cleanup Plan for Cumberland Bay Sludge Bed, Cleanup of Cumberland Bay PCB Contamination Begins) Even if there were a lifeguard and beach there, I think I’m going to wait a few more years before I swim at that spot.

Fiscal responsibility should always be commended, but short-sighted decision-making often hides an underlying problem. It seems that all involved are happy to open the beach, only if it is payed for by other revenues from recreational programs. Making the recreational program financially responsible for itself completely ignores the greater social and economic benefit of its very existence. Nowhere in this debate has the connection been made between beach visitation and greater economic impact to our area. Apparently ‘quality of life’ issues don’t even enter into the debate.

At what point will people accept the idea that visitation from and area outside of our own (see:tourism) contributes to and enhances our economic vitality? Even the places and countries with the least attractive tourism resources look to tourism as one of the first tools to generate foreign exchange. In fact, they even invest in it.
At least I can go swimming now.

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