By Ry Rivard
Lake George is one of the most pristine lakes of its kind in the country.
Still, it’s showing signs of wear and tear, thanks to its popularity. Last fall, a first-of-its-kind algal bloom in the lake shook already anxious watchdogs to push for further regulations of lakeside property owners.
It’s taken several years for the lake’s main regulator, the Lake George Park Commission, to update regulations to curb pollution that flows off roads, roofs and lots when rain falls or snow melts. Now, the Park Commission is facing — but so far resisting — growing pressure to order the inspection of leaking shoreline septics systems.
But one kind of pollution can help draw a quick response, even it might not be the biggest problem facing the lake. On Tuesday, commissioners got an earful about a different source of sewage and decided to delay a lakeside dock project. A group of Lake George homeowners said they’re worried about people who are drawn to the lake so much they don’t leave when another kind of nature calls.
The group is opposed to a proposed series of docks with boathouses and sundecks on Cotton Point, a community in the Town of Bolton on busy Basin Bay.
The new docks could moor over two dozen more boats and accompany a four-lot subdivision proposed by Michael Caruso.
The Town of Bolton and the Adirondack Park Agency already approved construction of new homes, but the Park Commission has special jurisdiction over dock construction.
One of the commissioners, Joe Stanek, said the number of docks seemed too large for a project that was supposed to be residential.
Since no car parking is allowed right by the lake in this part of Cotton Point, there also isn’t a good way to get down to the docks, which would be up to a third of a mile away from the new homes. Current residents worried about their would-be neighbors: After a few beers, would they all really make the trek back to their houses?
“People are going to be peeing in the lake, peeing in the woods,” said John Caffry, a Glens Falls attorney who represents one of the other homeowners on Cotton Point.
Turnout for a Zoom meeting made for the Park Commission’s biggest audience since the pandemic began. Before the meeting Tuesday morning, the commission had also received about 70 comments opposed to the dock project. By contrast, the latest version of the park commission’s years-long overhaul of stormwater regulations for the whole lake received about 20 public comments.
At least a handful of commenters wrote about their bathroom worries:
- “Where will these people go to the bathroom?”
- “Will they really walk the 1/4 – 1/2 mile to their homes? The more likely case is that they will use the lake and the wetlands as their bathroom. (We can’t imagine asking our 4 and 6 year old grandchildren to walk 10 – 15 minutes to use a bathroom!)”
- “With no house nearby and no bathrooms at the docks, it would be inevitable that people would sit on the docks and drink and eat. With no bathrooms, they would urinate in the lake.”
- “There are no public or private bathroom facilities available for the people who would be using these docks, unless they were to install Portable Toilets on the docks or on the Sundecks.”
- “Boaters using the shallow sandy bottom of Basin Bay are already coming ashore to find a bush.”
Caruso’s attorney, Robert Gregor, argued the concerns were misplaced, in part because people are already misusing the lake and his client’s project hasn’t been built yet.
The new homes and docks will create more “socially responsible” activity in the area, he argued.
“It will protect the lake more than what we have right now,” Gregor said.
In the end, the Park Commission will decide the docks’ fate another day. After Vice Chairman Ken Parker called the issue one of the “most interesting, complicated” development applications the agency has dealt with in years, commissioners voted to table the application until later.
Parker said he missed being in the same room with everybody and being able to easily see their reactions.
“What I really miss is the rolling of the eyes from the audience,” he said.