History of Beaver Park

By Alice Wareham  (Reprinted with permission from the Adirondack Daily Enterprise | April 15, 2010)

SARANAC LAKE – The Village Improvement Society left the Newman property, purchased in 1958 at the corner of Dorsey Street and LaPan Highway, in its natural grassy state until 1980, when someone began to fell the saplings at the Saranac River’s edge in the night.

Beaver Park (1 of 1)A neighbor, also experiencing the same damage, finally identified a beaver.

VIS faced a quandary about how to discourage this Adirondack civil engineer’s persistent vandalism, but it was resolved when summer traffic on the bridge overhead and canoe practice for the Hanmer Boat Races destroyed the beaver’s privacy, and he moved back downstream. The beaver, however, had been successful in focusing VIS’s attention on the lot, which was named Beaver Park in his memory.

The following year, Nancy Cannon, appointed Beaver Park chairman, submitted an extensive landscape plan. She spent the summer removing dead trees and planting spring flowering bulbs in the steep bank beside the highway.

“The worst problem with the park,” she told VIS, “is the view across the river to the Harrietstown Town Hall and the ugly oil tanks nearby.”

Gazebo at Beaver Park (1 of 1)In 1982, a federal Housing and Urban Development grant provided landscaping and gave Beaver Park a much improved view of lawn-bordered walkways backed by cedar trees, which obscured the oil tanks.

Also that year, Cannon arranged placement of a stairway entering the park from Dorsey Street. Later, the village placed a picnic table at the water’s edge.

When Anne Tubby assumed chairmanship in the late 1980s, she reported the staircase needed constant maintenance and its almost vertical pitch was dangerous. VIS considered the major expense of its removal, but questioned how people would get into the Park. Tubby planted irises and other perennials and worked with the village to turn the incoming approach at the bridge into a place of welcoming beauty. VIS planted 45 red and white rugosa rose bushes, the village provided a bench and a trash receptacle, and VIS kept the lawn mowed and the rose bushes pruned.

In 1993, the state Department of Transportation was completing Beaver Park landscaping undertaken the previous year in exchange for VIS’s consent to place road sand which had washed into the river in Beaver Park.

ADEBeaverParkTubby, Philip G. Smith and VIS President Joan Donaldson had met with DOT landscape architect James Tinny and project engineer Terry Perrico to approve the final plans.

Work had begun the previous fall when DOT removed the VIS Dorsey Street stairway and built a wide, curving path from the street down into the park with roadside sand dredged from the river.

On the 10th of June, D0T resumed work, bringing in topsoil, staking out plantings and laying paver brick on top of the curved path.

In 2002, VIS contracted with BOCES to build a gazebo to be placed in Beaver Park and completed by Heidi Klays. On Aug. 3, 2005, the new chairman dedicated the gazebo to the memory of Anne Tubby.

In June of that year, a descendant of the original beaver arrived at night and felled a number or saplings missed by Boy Scout Troop 1 in its work the previous fall. After several nights, he departed, and there has been no further activity to date.

Beaver Park is used by picnickers, fishermen and many who simply rest and enjoy their surroundings.

VIS Park Map