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Veteran diver envisions Clayton as a popular diving spot; proposes to install an access point at regional dock

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CLAYTON — A local veteran diver is spearheading a project to attract the diving crowd to downtown Clayton by installing a removable dock with a T-ladder at the Thousand Islands Regional Dock at Frink Park on Riverside Drive.

Although plans are preliminary — with project permits pending and about $6,000 to be raised — Raymond I. “Skip” Couch, a scuba diver since the 1960s and founding member of the Clayton Diving Club, said the divers’ access point could be installed as soon as next spring.

“I’ve been working on this for two or three years now,” he said, adding that Clayton has the potential to become a popular spot for recreational diving and especially for training.

Local governments have given their blessings for the project, which would be funded through donations from divers and possibly businesses.

The proposed U-shaped wooden structure — a floating dock that would be placed near the village’s main dock — would be 18 feet by 16 feet with a 6-foot-long middle section. It would be removed at the end of each diving season for maintenance and repairs.

Nearby St. Lawrence riverfront villages, such as Alexandria Bay and Cape Vincent, attract a large number of divers each summer, and Mr. Couch estimates that more than 50 divers would visit Clayton every weekend if they had better access to the water.

Village Trustee Dennis H. Honeywell said the access point also could be used as a kayak launch and should not interfere with the docking of boats.

If the project becomes a reality, he said, village businesses should benefit from the access point because divers are “stay-over people” who are likely to lodge and dine in Clayton.

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