LAKE PLACID - Village officials gave tentative authorization to John Wilkins Monday, Dec. 2 to hold a waterskiing event on Mirror Lake the week after Ironman next year.
The event would have access to a portion of Mirror Lake, as well as Mid's Park and possibly 1 Main Street Park, from Monday, July 28, to Tuesday, Aug. 5, as long as Wilkins gets all the necessary insurance and other conditions in place.
Wilkins first presented to the board last month the idea of holding an Eastern Region Water Ski Championship regional qualifier event, sanctioned by the American Water Ski Association. He said the idea was first brought up to him a week before that, so he hadn't had much time to put together details.
Lake Placid Village Board members listen to a presentation by John Wilkins, right, Dec. 2 about his plans to hold a waterskiing event on Mirror Lake the week after Ironman next year. (Photo by Jessica Collier)
Village Board members said they were pleased that Wilkins was able to answer many of the questions they had at their last meeting.
"I feel much more comfortable," Trustee Jason Leon said.
Lake Placid hosted the same event years ago, and Wilkins showed the board pictures of the area used during the 1974 regional competition, which he found in town Code Enforcement Officer Jim Morganson's office.
Wilkins said the area he would use is within 400 feet of the shoreline, and organizers would leave a 100-foot buffer between the shore and the event's equipment so people, for instance, renting a paddle board from EMS would have space to go around and access the rest of the lake. The lanes would be clearly marked, he said.
He's asking to use a 2,000-foot by 400-foot portion of the lake, which he said is a proportionally small section of the lake. The only time the event would go outside that space is when they need to put in or take out a boat. He said he may try to use a jumbotron in Mid's Park if the village approves of it, but that's something to look at more thoroughly later in the process.
Wilkins said the tournament would start pulling skiers at 8 a.m. and probably wrap up around 5 p.m. each day, though he anticipates there would be practice time for competitors before and after that each day. He said the boats used in the tournament are relatively quiet and have to be under 72 decibels.
Village Board members had asked Wilkins to talk to some of the people who would be impacted by the event. He said he spoke with Butch Martin, director of the North Elba Parks District, Bill Billerman, Ironman race director Greg Borzilleri, and Lori Fitzgerald, marketing director for the High Peaks Resort.
Wilkins said Martin had no concerns, and Billerman said he didn't have any environmental concerns but would prefer not to have boats on the lake personally. Borzilleri gave him some information about Ironman equipment that could impact the event. Fitzgerald, at first, had a number of questions and concerns, but Wilkins said she seemed to be satisfied by the time he was done speaking with her.
He said he's also spoken with Jim McKenna, director of the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism, and he has been supportive of the event.
Wilkins said he knows there's concern around town about the date of the event, but there's a specific time window when the regional championship can be held, and this was the best option, he said.
Leon noted that it's rugby weekend in Lake Placid, but that the waterskiers wouldn't be using the same spaces as that event, other than hotels. Wilkins said many competitors will stay in mobile homes, and he is talking to officials at Northwoods School about potentially using dorm space if the hotels are fully booked. He anticipates about 160 to 180 competitors.
Mayor Craig Randall said Ironman week always uses the community's resources to the maximum, so having another event right on the heels of that without giving everyone time to breathe will be difficult. But he said that if Wilkins works closely with the village, everyone could make it work.
"Well, as they say, I think you have to make hay when the sun shines," Wilkins said.
Randall asked why Wilkins hadn't considered using Lake Placid for the event, where motor boats are allowed. They aren't normally on Mirror Lake.
Wilkins said he considered it for about 5 seconds, but that fact makes it next to impossible, unless everyone on the lake agreed not to use their motor boats for three days.
"When another boat drives by, you basically have to stop the tournament and wait for the waves to clear," Wilkins said.
The wind also hits Lake Placid more than it hits Mirror Lake, which has buildings along Main Street blocking wind streams, he said.
"Lake Placid simply would not be doable," Wilkins said.
Board members said they would prefer more time to consider the event, but Wilkins said he needs to submit a bid by Dec. 11. He apologized for the short notice.
Board members approved the event unanimously, contingent upon Wilkins getting the appropriate insurance and following the rules and regulations for use of Mid's Park. Trustee Art Devlin joined the meeting from Daytona, Fla., via Skype, and voted in favor of the project. Trustee Peter Holderied was absent from the meeting. Randall, who doesn't normally vote unless there's a tie, said he wanted to put on the record that he's also in favor of it.
"I hope this event comes off smoothly and is fantastic and can be an annual event," Leon said.
Contact Jessica Collier at 891-2600 ext. 26 or firstname.lastname@example.org.