Caroga plan gets agency review

JOHNSTOWN – A Fulton County Planning Board member recently briefed the board on efforts by an Essex County-based agency to assist the town of Caroga on plans for a new multi-use town center.

County Planning Board member Robert Miller – also a member of the Caroga Town Planning Board – gave a presentation to the county board at the Fort Johnstown Annex.

The Caroga Planning Board in 2011 completed an update of its Comprehensive Plan. That plan noted that with the closing of Sherman’s Amusement Park, the town has lost its “town center, a place that served as the magnet to both people and business.”

But town officials are eyeing a new town center in the future along Routes 10 and 29.

“We were doing our Comprehensive Plan and just finishing that up,” Miller said. “We’ve proposed some development in there, and the problem is what do you do with the old amusement park up there.”

Miller discussed the new Hamlets 3 guidebook being developed through the Adirondack Community Housing Trust of Elizabethtown, Essex County. The trust is an independent, not-for-profit corporation with board members drawn from various communities of the Adirondack State Park. Hamlets 3 “presents a planning and design model for smart growth of hamlets in the Adirondack Park,” according to the initiative’s website.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation’s Adirondack Park Community Smart Growth Grant Program provided funding for Hamlets 3.

Caroga Lake was one of five Adirondack Park communities, and the only one in the local area, chosen to directly work with the Hamlets 3 initiative. The others are in: Indian Lake, Blue Mountain Lake, Long Lake and Au Sable Forks. The effort is sanctioned by the Adirondack Park Agency.

“The APA really got onboard with this,” Miller said.

He said architect Roger Trancik of Urban Design Consultants in Ithaca was hired to work with officials of the hamlets.

Miller said Trancik went to each hamlet, including Caroga, for a meeting and Hamlets 3 workshop and different suggestions emerged.

The new Caroga Town Center would be located near and around the former Sherman’s Amusement Park. The Town Center would be a walkable, integrated open-air, multi-use development where residents and visitors would be able to gather, socialize, eat, live, drink, recreate, shop, visit and exercise.

Miller said the contingent from Hamlets 3 thought the Sherman’s carousel building was “very valuable” and the thought is to keep the dance hall and create retail space. The hope is to bring in some lodging, where snowmobilers can stay.

“We gave them a tour of the town,” Miller said. “They kind of walked the site. I think it was good. It got people involved.”

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at