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Stillwater readies the return of Brown's Beach

From a distance, the dozens of teen-agers playing at Brown's Beach late Thursday afternoon might have looked like the inaugural party breaking in the new edition of a gathering spot that once featured and arcade and a hall for dining and dancing. It was the Saratoga Rowing Club and a couple of busloads of fellow rowers from Boston, volunteering to pick up lake weed that was resting a foot or two under the surface of Saratoga Lake. They filled a canoes and five-gallon buckets with the plant, then piled it near the water's edge to be removed later. When the job was done, some of the boys played ultimate frisbee on the space that will one day be filled with beach sand.

"During the wintertime we're hoping to have dog races out here, ice skating and any other amenity we can bring along that line," says Stillwater Town Supervisor Edward Kinowski. "It's up to the creativity of anyone who wants to bring great ideas into this lovely area we have here."

Kinowski says there is no set date for the opening of the beach. He hopes it will be sometimes this summer. At one point the town entertained a proposal to build a large hotel complex here.

"It was a good idea from a point of, I guess, economic development for the area but it would have been a shame had it been accomplished," says Kinowski, "simply because this needs to be parks and recreation. There needs to be a public beach for folks on Saratoga Lake."

One part of the beach scene that had a quiet, unadvertised opening Thursday was Dock Brown's Lakeside Tavern, run by restaurateur Anthony Panza. On the floor above the tavern, seven small lodging rooms are under contstruction, soon to open under the name The Nest.

"It was sad the way it was closed for so many years," says Panza. He has high praise for the work Kinowski and the town has put into re-opening the beach. "Back when my Dad was alive it was a dance club, people would come over here and dance and then go over to Panza's for pizzas afterwards."

Plans include the construction of a pavilion. Kinowski says Menneto Powersports will operate the marina, while Panza will handle concessions.