T he village is considering allowing public access to its Pine Lake property.
Mayor Peter Telisky said during last week’s village board meeting that he would like to see the property reopened for recreational pursuits such as hiking, offshore fishing and possibly some limited access for all-terrain vehicles.
The property, which used to be known as Long Lake or Long Pond, is in Dresden and serves as the village’s reservoir and source of drinking water for residents.
Years ago the property was accessible to the public and was a popular destination for hikers, campers and anglers from Whitehall and beyond. The local National Guard even used the property at times for training and maneuvers.
However, village officials closed the reservoir to the public because it was the easiest way to secure the water source.
They also had problems with users who repeatedly left trash, including used diapers and glass bottles, on the property.
“I used to be up there with the National Guard when it was open and there was always a lot of garbage,” said Charlie Bennett.
Gary Bennett said many of those problems have continued.
Officials said the site has been used as a location for parties in the past and village employees continue to find trash, tents, and remnants of campfires. “The problem has always persisted even though access was denied,” Gary Bennett said.
Trustee Michael LaChapelle said if the site was reopened, users may be more inclined to care for the property so they don’t loss access again.
Telisky said at least one resident has volunteered to provide the village with periodic reports on the condition of the property if it is reopened.
But not everyone thinks allowing public access to the village’s water source is a good idea.
“I’m against the idea. That’s my drinking water,” said Charlie Bennett, who feared trash could contaminate the reservoir and make the water unsafe.
There may also be issues with insurance. The village attorney advised the board to consult with their insurance provider about the possible repercussions of reopening the property to the public.
She said the village could potentially be held liable if someone was hurt. Telisky is expected to speak with the village’s insurance provider in the next several weeks and the board, which is at least open to the suggestion, will discuss in the matter in further detail at a future meeting.
In other matters, the board said Gary Bennett is working with local businesses about promotional signs that impede the flow of traffic on sidewalks in the village and represent a liability concern for the village.
“If we give approval or continue to allow these signs, we are signing on for any risks,” Telisky said.
He said Bennett is going to work with business leaders about finding alternative locations to place the signs.
“This isn’t an attack on business. We want to work with them to find a place, but they can’t be on sidewalks. The liability is just too extreme,” Telisky said.
Anyone who has questions is encouraged to contact Bennett.