Chair Archive

Chair's Report

October 1, 2017

Tom Wheeler
northflow@gmail.com
315-386-2482

This November we will have the opportunity to vote on two very significant matters with significant potential impact to the Adirondack Park and the Forest Preserve. A very important proposed constitutional amendment, would set up a 250 acre land bank to be used for the purpose of mitigating unintended consequences affecting local governments in areas near the forest preserve. Proposal 3 would create a forest preserve land bank of 250 acres for qualifying local projects. The land bank would be referred to in law as the Health and Safety Land Account. Municipalities would request to use acres in the land bank to address bridge and road hazards, water wells to meet drinking water standards, and stabilizing public utility lines. Before local governments could begin requesting acres in the land bank, the state would acquire 250 new acres to include in the Forest Preserve. The measure would also allow bike paths, sewer lines, and electric, telephone, and broadband lines within the width of highways (49.5 feet or the width of the easement in existence on July 1, 2015) cutting through the Forest Preserve. The Adirondack Mountain Club was involved in the development of this proposed amendment recognizing that the presently existing process which requires a constitutional amendment for any adjustment, however minor, is unwieldy and creates unnecessary hardship for local governments and residents in the Adirondack Park. ADK supports this Proposal as does the Adirondack Counsel and local governments within the park.

The other issue on the ballot is a proposed Constitutional Convention. A constitutional convention would consist of delegates from each senate district and fifteen at large delegates selected by the voters. While there is every wish to clean up the mess in Albany and its dysfunction and apparent corruption, there is great scepticism that this could be accomplished without substantial risk to the Forever Wild clause. Neil Woodworth has indicated that it is highly likely that the powerful state political machinery will be able to select the very delegates that would be called upon to enact reforms. For this reason and others the mountain club (and our state legislators from the park area) oppose approval of the constitutional convention. Should the convention be approved, delegates would be selected in 2018 and any proposed new constitution would be subject to voter approval in 2019.