LAKE PLACID - No one can remember when the playground equipment, including a merry-go-round, was installed at Bicentennial Park where there is little grass among the dirt pits.
After discussing various options for the park at the north end of town on Dal Hall Boulevard, the town council recently approved entering a lease agreement, which for now will maintain the park's status quo.
The Boys Scouts own the park property that is managed by the Free and Accepted Masons. The local Boy Scout troop has disbanded and the park's lease between the town and the Masons expired in 2006.
The town council discussed the park at its June 10 meeting and directed town Administrator Phil Williams to negotiate an agreement with the Masons.
At its December meeting, council considered a five-year lease, with a 90-day cancelation provision, that calls for the town to pay the Masons $300 per year with the town providing maintenance and liability insurance.
Vice-Mayor Ray Royce said he would be inclined to spend $3.67 a day for the park.
Councilwoman Debra Worley made a motion to accept the Bicentennial Park lease agreement with the Masons. The motion was seconded for discussion.
Councilman Steve Bastardi said, "It seems to me that $300 a year is quite a bargain for a place for the kids to play."
He believes all the city's parks should be maintained to some type of standard, which should include a reasonable amount of grass. The town should invest in some irrigation and improvements should be made to the park.
But, he would hesitate to improve it if there is another nearby opportunity, Bastardi added.
"To me it would make more sense for the town to move that park to the property we already own and put in irrigation and maintain it at a better level," he said. "It would be in proximity, probably, to the same kids who use it in that general area."
Councilman Mike Waldron wanted to know the age of the playground equipment at Bicentennial Park.
With no certain answer from staff concerning the age of the equipment, Waldron said the equipment has "had its day" and should not be relocated.
Bicentennial Park has deep dirt pits and its merry-go-round requires an adult to push it, he said.
"But, that's where I am headed in trying to do something better for the kids on that end of the town," Waldron said.
Royce said he didn't want the town to spend a lot of money on a park that the town doesn't own unless there is a "multi, multi-year lease."
The town council approved the lease agrement with the Masons by a 3-1 vote with Waldron voting "no."
Worley explained recently that the city had a 99-year lease for the park and nobody paid the $1 a year fee. Then around 2003 or 2004 the Boys Scouts wanted to be paid the same amount they were paying for their town water bill.
"We don't have a lease on it and we are maintaining it," she said. "That's why we have to keep our leases current and I think Phil Williams will do that from now on."