Adirondack Development Proposal Highlights Need for Adirondack Park Agency Reforms

Monday, January 12, 2015
By: William C. Janeway

Uploaded Image: /vs-uploads/images/Rock Pond.jpgA 1,118-acre development proposal at the former Woodworth Lake Boy Scout Camp in the Adirondack Park towns of Bleecker and Johnstown has appropriately focused attention, again, on the need and opportunity for Adirondack Park Agency (APA) reforms. The Agency will consider approving the permit for this proposal at their meeting in Ray Brook Thursday, January 15th.

The Adirondack Council is opposing the approval of the APA subdivision permit for this project as proposed. Click HERE for a press release issued by the Adirondack Council and other groups opposed to the permit as drafted.

The Adirondack Council has asked the APA to negotiate with the project applicant or to require changes to the proposed permit so that the project can be a model for science-based conservation design. (Click HERE for the letter.) The Council proposes that if the property can’t be protected by state purchase or conservation easement, the APA should require the development to be clustered on the less sensitive part of the property to better protect the lakes, wildlife habitat and adjoining state lands.

The Adirondack Council, with various partners, has promoted a number of proposals to update the Adirondack Park Agency Act and the APA’s regulations and policies. The Governor’s team has also spoken about the need for reforms. In addition, the APA needs funding and restoration of staff for outreach and support, compliance assistance and local community priorities.

Through dialog, mutual respect and risk taking, reform should be possible. But it will not be easy. The U.S. Senator from Maine, Susan M. Collins, was recently quoted saying "Civility does not mean meaningless discourse that is devoid of any principle or passion. What it does mean is being respectful to those who have different views, listening carefully, being open to new ideas, and...searching for common ground." In the Adirondacks, a lot has been accomplished when different stakeholders work together and find common ground. We are hopeful that this is possible regarding APA reforms.

A theme of policy innovation and change is echoed in the Common Ground Alliance’s “Blueprint for the Blue Line” issued in November 2014. This includes in a fifteen-point agenda including looking, “…at APA policies to include current, science-based reforms including transfer of development rights, clustering and smart-growth incentives for landowners and communities.”

Governor Cuomo has spoken about and advanced reforms to make government work better. The Adirondack Council has applauded the historic land acquisitions and public investments in communities and jobs. But, the APA’s rules and regulations for private-land use and development are outdated. The APA needs updated tools, new incentives and a science-based overhaul to better protect clean water, wilderness, wildlife habitat, and the backcountry while fostering vibrant communities. We can have sustainable hamlet-focused development, and upgrades to tourism, clean-water infrastructure and resource management so that forest lands of the Adirondack Park can be better protected from subdivision such as proposed at Woodworth Lake.

The Adirondack Council is proposing that the state act to provide improved protection for these forests, wildlife habitat, lakes, and streams by modifying the proposed Woodworth Lake development and advancing common sense APA reforms. The Governor’s leadership is needed to bring the APA and the Adirondack Park into the 21st Century.


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William C. (Willie) Janeway returned to the Adirondacks to become the Executive Director and leader of the Adirondack Council in May 2013 after close to six years as the Regional Director for the State Department of Environmental Conservation Hudson Valley/Catskill Region. He brings to the Adirondack Council team a life-long passion and interest in the Adirondacks and nearly 30 years of experience as a professional conservationist, fundraiser, administrator, coalition builder and advocate for the environment.

After graduating from St. Lawrence University where he majored in economics and environmental studies, Willie lived in the Adirondacks for nine years while working for the Adirondack Mountain Club as the first Trails Coordinator, and North Country Director.  Willie also served as the first Executive Director of the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission, Executive Director of the Hudson Valley Greenway, and State Director of Government Relations for The Nature Conservancy.

When not working Willie can be found outdoors. He is an Adirondack 46er, a year-round hiker and skier, a runner and a fisherman.  He and his family share a camp in the Park.  Willie and his wife Mary live in Keene.


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