The 2016 CGA Forum was held July 19 in Old Forge. It was, remarkably, the 10th annual meeting. It attracted about 200 people again, with much stronger local government representation than in recent years.
I presented slides that reviewed actual events of the last four years compared to the plans developed during the 2011-12 ADK Futures Project. I’ve been matching up the plan vs the real world since 2012 in this online database. This past February I wrote a paper that provides links to all the source information. The resulting profile of our progress is rooted in this data, not just my opinion.
The result is surprising forward movement on many fronts, far better progress than most people know. Wow, we don’t need another plan, we need continuing work in the directions we are already headed. And we need to avoid getting swept up into negative emotional stuff arising from continuing lawsuits and controversy related to APA decisions. One person’s proper APA ruling is another person’s disaster – this just seems to be the fate of regulatory agencies – but these battles of words and lawyers are no longer the central force defining the future of our park. The actual future is in the active forward moving hands of thousands people doing their everyday work to improve the place, not with our regional advocacy groups, and it is working.
One major step ahead (thanks to Betty Little, Dan Stec, DEC, Ross Whaley and others too) is the first passage of the utility amendment, from work that originated in the 2102 CGA Forum in a work group run by Neil Woodworth and Karyn Richards. Here is the version of the utility amendment that achieved first passage.
S8027 is the related implementation language, providing definitions of the terms and other details. This did not pass the Assembly and is up next year along with second passage.
The amendment does some important things, noted in the points that follow:
- Allows pipes and cables to be buried under roads that pass through Forest Preserve, which happened all the time until 1996 when the practice was halted
- It legalizes power and communications lines that exist along roads passing through Forest Preserve. New lines can be co-located or, if nothing exists, they can be buried. It allows power poles to be moved when needed for road projects – currently no poles are allowed to be moved, ever.
- It allows bike paths associated with roads where they pass through Forest Preserve
- It sets up a 250 acre land bank for town about county roads like the one set up in 1956 for State roads.
- The land bank can also be used for water wells.
It might not be perfect, but it is a major step forward. Our thanks to the many people who have made this possible so far. We encourage everyone to support this as it proceeds through second passage on on to the ballot in November for NYS voters to approve.