At the CGA Forum in July 2012, we presented the results of the ADK Futures work, and a number of working groups dove into various topics during the afternoon. BTW, this year’s CGA Forum will use a workgroup format again.
One of those July 2012 groups discussed amendments to help towns get broadband, water, rebuild bridges more wisely, etc. Neil Woodward and Kayrn Richards left with the task of writing up the notes and getting others involved. By October 2012 a working group had organized itself and I wrote about it here.
Now it is June of 2014, and we are pleased to say good work has been done on the data gathering and legal thinking. It has come far enough to be worth sharing for considered discussion. There is no rush. It’s taken 22 months to get this far, and it improved over time. This is a complicated topic. So, we offer a deeply considered proposal that we hope will find wide support and success over time. We want your pubic voice in support, and we also want to hear concerns. Take the time to download the map data (warning, large files involved) and read the other two appendices. This is not intended as a yes-or-no offer, it is an invitation for ideas to resolve the issues we find present.
Please pass along this information as you wish. We welcome comments here (you need to create an account with your real name and log in) and anywhere else discussions might take place. We expect to write followups here as the summer unfolds so you might want to check back from time to time.
Click here to download the CGA Amendment Working Group White Paper.
I have a number of comments, respectful as I am of the hard work and time that went into this paper. First, I am not at all sure there was sufficiently broad outreach as the paper was being developed. One gets the impression from this passage from 2012 (“We do hope to do enough work, reach out to enough people, gather diverse points of view, hold sufficient forums, and so on…. to be able to propose solutions with credible support to be taken forward officially by others”) that there was much give and take by those outside the circle with the working group. I don’t think there was, and no opportunity was afforded Adirondack Wild to meet with the working group. Second, the 500-acre land bank includes far too many potential uses of Forest Preserve to the point where it invites abuse and erodes the integrity of Article XIV. Third, the proposed administrators of the Land Bank -NYS DOT and NYS DEC – do not necessarily inspire confidence that a land bank would be used wisely and always in the public interest. Fourth, the paper attempts to justify amending Article XIV in the ways proposed in order to address climate change. Article XIV in principle and mostly in practice does not pose an obstacle to climate change adaptation or mitigation. In fact, the integrity and wholeness of the Forest Preserve is a major force for climate change adaptation and mitigation. Fifth, the paper holds out one set of criteria for measuring the wisdom of Article XIV amendments – the Adirondack Council’s – as the widely accepted gold standard. It is not. Adirondack Wild has its criteria, others have theirs. All should be on the table for sharing, brainstorming and discussion. Sixth, I believe the proposed use amendment to bury a variety of utilities and infrastructure beneath state, county and town highways abutting Forest Preserve is a workable and important concept which could, given sufficient time, evidence and advance discussion, gain support across the state. Thanks for the chance to comment.
Thanks Dave. Here I will use your numbering 1-6 above to respond.
First, on insufficient outreach: There can always be more, for sure. You and Dan Plumley were the first people we interviewed. The working group divided up the interviews and reported back to the group. It only met twice and, as a group, it did not meet with anyone.
Second, on the allowed uses of the Land Bank: They are all public benefit uses. If you have suggestions about which to disallow, let us know. We think the better way to control use of the land bank is with limits on project size. Check out that part of the proposal. Otherwise we risk missing something like the internet on any list we prepare.
Third, on the question of DEC and DOT as administrators of a land bank. DEC is the actual owner of the Forest Preserve, so they cannot be removed from the legal process. DOT has managed land banks twice, without any controversy, so we didn’t think moving someone new and untested into that role was wise. But, feel free to suggest and alternative – we were given a number of them but none were without issues. We went for experience.
Fourth, on the question of climate change adaptation road works. Well, even if you accept that their legality is questionable, like power lines have been for so long, then we feel it should be clarified, by amendment, what is ok or not. If we take the path that we will ‘look the other way’ on climate change work on town and county roads, then we’re asking for trouble later. One person’s climate change bridge will be another’s awful overbuilt road work. We need to make this legal and manage it properly in a Land Bank.
Fifth, on the topic of using the Adk Council criteria for amendments. No other advocacy group, including Adk Wild, has published criteria known to us, so we used what we had available. As others come available we can write up something. The Council criteria are about land swaps, which we are not proposing, so they may be off a bit. However, there are thoughtfully prepared.
Sixth, we are pleased to read the use amendment appeals to you. If you have any further ideas for it, please let us know.
We plan to post an FAQ (frequently asked questions) file before the end of June and we will include you questions and these responses.
Thanks for your input. Feel free to get in touch directly or post here anytime.