Potsdam considers higher fencing on village bridges

Published: May. 30, 2023 at 4:18 PM EDT
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POTSDAM, New York (WWNY) - Should new fencing be put up around bridges in Potsdam to protect people from drowning in the Raquette River? The topic comes up after a college student jumped off a bridge and couldn’t swim to safety earlier this month.

Two main ways to enter Potsdam require crossing bridges over the Raquette River, which cuts through the village.

Now village leaders are looking at making those bridges safer - not to drivers, but to pedestrians - after a Clarkson University student jumped off a bridge, tried to swim, and drowned earlier this month.

“A citizen had come forth on our village of Potsdam Facebook page and offered a solution to avert a tragedy like this again happening in Potsdam and their suggestion was to put some sort of guardrail or higher fencing on the bridges,” said Potsdam Village Trustee Abigail Lee.

No decision has been made on whether or not the village would install fencing or better guardrails to prevent people from going into the Raquette River. One village board trustee member says it may be costly for the village to do so.

“So, I think we’ll have to weigh as an analysis with the board whether any costly repairs to barriers make feasible sense just given that there are so many ways to possibly enter the water for anyone who might be determined for any reason,” said Alexandra Jacobs Wilke, village trustee.

Wilke also points out that the village has safety buoys in the water and plans to install more signs warning people of the river’s danger.

“We’re going to improve our signage, especially we were talking about in the springtime putting up warnings about when the spring melt is coming in, just how fast the water is here and it can be very cold, and just raising awareness around safety in and around the water,” she said.

The topic and the cost will come up at the next village board meeting in June.