Sacandaga Park - today

How did Sacandaga Park get to where it is today?
The Park started as a Methodist summer revival retreat - accommodations were basic and the emphasis was on a religious experience in a nature setting. The coming of the railroad brought a different clientele. Tents were replaced by rental cottages; the Methodists left for Round Lake (near Balston Spa). The new visitors to the Park came to have a good time and enjoy the river waters, the clean air and the beautiful surroundings. In the early 1900's, after a disastrous fire, the FJ&G re-built and expanded the Park into a large "full service" cottage rental and hotel resort community that catered to a relatively wealthy and urban clientele. These were the golden times of the resort era. Life was comfortable and the FJ&G took care of everything. Neighboring villages supplied the necessary labor. Music, theatre and other cultural events were brought in from the big cities to entertain the audience. Although cottages were owned by the railroad and rented for various time periods, resorts like this had many repeat customers and this created a sense of community. After the flooding of the Sacandaga Valley (in 1930) and the demise of the railroad and its bankruptcy (in 1933), the cottages were sold off (starting in 1938) and became privately owned. Services were either privatized or taken over by the Town of Northampton. As the decline of the resort unfolded many issues such as the ownership of roads, beach rights, right-of-ways and deed covenants were never settled or enforced. This led later on to years of litigation, inconvenience and ill will. Nevertheless, a sense of community survived for many years while ownership composition evolved. Most of the Park residents continue to be summer seasonal. In fact, many of the cottages are suitable for summer use only: they lack insulation and access to "deep (drinking) water". The resulting lack of local residency and thus voter registration, limits the ability of Park residents to be heard and represented in the local political process. Moreover, with the short season, residents have little inclination to spend time and money on things other than recreation. All of this worked well while the FJ&G took care of things but that is a long time ago. The Sacandaga Park Civic Association is now the primary voice of the summer community.

How things could change
The last few years has seen a gradual influx of new residents into the Northampton area. A few newcomers are settling in Sacandaga Park. The newcomers tend to be retirees attracted by what the Adirondack Park has to offer. Most have historic ties to the region. This trend would be strengthened and the resident composition rejuvenated if suitable local employment opportunities existed. With the influx of residents has come development pressure, especially along the lake front. Since Sacandaga Park is small, squeezed between Rt30 and the lake, it's survival as a historic park with a special character requires protective measures. With the Town's Historic Preservation Ordinance in place it is conceivable to embark on a serious effort to preserve and revitalize the Park area through the creation of a Historic District. The District could then become a vehicle for the creation of a type of Common Interest Development (CID) with some similarity to earlier times when the railroad managed the common property. Such a semi-private organizational structure would be able to actively pursue policies to: initiate open space preservation through easement acquisition (instead of the type of after-the-fact litigation that typically results from unwanted development); privately manage the Park Water & Sewer District (instead of endless complaining to the Town); assert historic right of ways for pedestrian use (instead of furtive use); establish a ban on passing-through vehicular traffic (McKinley Avenue would be a lot safer for children); pursue a more equitable allocation of property taxes (Park residents get fully taxed but use few services); promote preservation of Park monuments and wooded areas; and propose other regulatory efforts that contribute to the preservation of the Park and the well-being of its residents. This is the idea behind the Sacandaga Station Cottage Project. In the absence of a pro-active preservation attitude, Sacandaga Park will gradually see its heritage fade away - the cottages and spaces replaced by generic recreational development .The Railroad Station is strategically located and could develop into a community center for the entire Sacandaga Park area.
sacandaga station