Friday, March 5, 2010

This Week’s Adirondack Web Highlights


Friday, March 5, 2010

A Mountain of Dreams:Developer Seeks Redemption in Proposed Ski Area

Every small town has its stars. Rolf Ronning was one of Bolton’s. The only child of a wealthy, well-educated couple, he graduated from St. Lawrence University in 1966 and earned two Masters, a doctorate and a law degree before returning to his hometown in 1977.

A little more than a decade later, he was in prison, convicted of possessing and conspiring to sell cocaine.

“I embarrassed myself and my children with those drug charges,” says Ronning. “My wife and I have tried to make it up to them. My daughter is at St. Lawrence and wants to go to law school. My son wants to get his PhD and teach. I want to succeed for them. I can’t give up.”

Released from prison in 1992, Ronning returned to Bolton Landing. Stripped of his license to practice law, he turned to real estate development, in which he made millions of dollars.

Now he’s lost most of those millions. Foreclosure proceedings have been brought against five of his properties, including his lakefront home.

The state of Ronning’s financial affairs is threatening to overwhelm his latest project, one that he hopes will redeem his fortune and his reputation: a ski area on one hundred acres near Exit 24 of the Adirondack Northway.

“I wish I could appear before the Town Board and the various agencies as a financially secure individual, but the rumors that I am in financial difficulty are true,” said Ronning.

Ronning concedes that title to the property, once envisioned as a residential subdivision to be called Westwood Forest, could end up in court.

“There’s litigation regarding the validity and enforceability of the mortgages,” said Ronning, guardedly and obscurely.

Some of those mortgages, he added, are held by companies controlled by “a person who loans money at high interest rates but whose name never appears on documents.”

At a Bolton public hearing on a proposal to permit ski centers in two areas currently zoned for rural and residential uses, a letter was read aloud by Supervisor Ron Conover from someone whom Ronning believes is affiliated with one of those companies.

“Rolf Ronning is not capable of handling a ski resort as he hasn’t the proper funds. He owes the investors involved in Westwood Forest over one million dollars. He is broke. It will be just a matter of time before Ronning loses all his properties,” wrote Gloria Dingee.

Ronning said he was surprised that Conover read the letter aloud, since it had no bearing on the issue before the Town Board, which at that point was nothing more than a change in zoning rules.

As Conover himself says, “the zoning change is not being undertaken on behalf of any particular project; we’re doing it to increase opportunities for appropriate development within the Town.” Nevertheless, Ronning would be its first beneficiary.

“We’ve all felt the effects of the Sagamore closing for the winter, and a ski center might bring visitors back to Bolton in winter and be good for the residents as well,” said Ronning.

According to Ronning, the ski area would consist of a 1,570 foot long double chairlift, a T-bar and a lodge.

“We’re contemplating night skiing and summer activities that would complement the nearby Adirondack Extreme Adventure Course,” said Ronning.

Snow could be made by drawing water from a nearby brook, an idea that Department of Environmental Conservation officials in Warrensburg found reasonable, according to Ronning.

As many as fifty people would be employed every winter, said Ronning.

“This is still in the conceptual stages,” said Ron Mogren of Saratoga Associates, who drafted preliminary plans for the ski area, tentatively named “Thrill Hill.”

But if he can secure at least some of the necessary permits, the investors will come, Ronning says.

Bolton’s Town Board deferred its decision on whether to approve the zoning changes for another month, but Ronning said he remained optimistic.

“I’d be unrealistic if I wasn’t concerned about how people’s views of me might affect this, but I hope that the Town Board, the Planning Board and the others will judge the project on its merits, not on what they might think of me,” he said.

After the meeting, Ronning sought out Lake George Waterkeeper Chris Navitsky to show him the plans for the ski area.

The Waterkeeper has brought several lawsuits against subdivisions planned by Ronning, and at times Ronning has publicly accused the Waterkeeper of deliberately attempting to bankrupt him.

But on the surface, the two are cordial toward one another, as is often the case in small towns, even with the most antagonistic relationships.

Navitsky, however, was non-committal.

“It looks interesting, Rolf,” was the extent of his comments.

“I’m trying to do the right thing,” said Ronning. “Every day I wake up and promise myself I’ll do my best. Day by day, that’s how I keep going.”

Editors Note: The Lake George Mirror rents office space from Bell Point Realty, which is owned by Rolf Ronning.

For more news from Lake George, subscribe to the Lake George Mirror


Friday, March 5, 2010

Commentary: Some Local Media Perpetuate Lies

Yesterday morning the Plattsburgh Press Republican issued a “Breaking News” e-mail. It contained one story, “Hornbeck Nomination Denied: Senate Finance Committee cites conflicts,” by Kim Smith Dedam, a notorious anti-APA, anti-Forest Preserve “reporter.”

“Gov. David Paterson’s nomination of Peter Hornbeck to the Adirondack Park Agency Board was denied today by the Senate Finance Committee,” the first line read. The problem? It’s not true.

The Senate Finance Committee has yet to vote, and isn’t expected to vote for some time. The story was concocted by State Senator Betty Little for her own political gain and duly reported as fact, without an ounce of actual journalism, fact checking, or confirmation. The only source Smith Dedam cited in the story was Betty Little’s spokesman Dan Mac Entee. The only evidence cited was Mac Entee’s word that “Senator Little was told late yesterday afternoon that there were — at best — 14 votes in support of the nomination.” To their credit, the Times Union’s Brian Nearing debunked Dedam this morning in a follow-up on the false report.

Unfortunately the damage is already done, as WNBZ’s Jon Alexander (who cut his teeth at the anti-environmentalist, anti-APA, Denton Publications) is also now parroting the one-sided report and saying, without a shred of journalistic evidence, that Hornbeck’s nomination is “on life support.”

Neither stories mention that Pete Hornbeck’s own locally elected representatives in Minerva voted to whole-heartedly support his nomination.

The question local reporters ought to be asking is whether our local Senator is holding up the legislature’s business, as she did when she supported last year’s Republican coup that brought the state legislature to a halt.

More importantly, Kim Smith Dedam and her editors need to explain to us how this “story” – “Hornbeck Nomination Denied” – happened, and apologize, or they should resign.

Local media no longer has a place for corrupt journalism.

BTW: You can reach Kim Smith Dedam at kdedam@pressrepublican.com

UPDATE: In case you needed to know how the story plays at Denton, they’re right into the act with “Hornbeck Appointment Turned Down“. One source: Betty Little.


Friday, March 5, 2010

This Week’s Top Adirondack News Stories


Thursday, March 4, 2010

ADK Music Scene: Legends On Friday Night

Friday March 5 brings the musical legends to the Capital District. Dave Mason and Leon Russell are playing a show together at the Hart Theater at The Egg in downtown Albany. Dave Mason was a founding member of Traffic and recorded with other legends such as Jimi Hendrix and The Rolling Stones. Leon Russell has been touring since the 60’s and has been featured on more studio albums by major artists than you can shake a stick at. The same night, Richie Havens is at Proctor’s Theater in Schenectady. Richie is of course most famous for his performance at Woodstock in 1969. If you’ve never been to Proctor’s, this would be a good night to go. The theater is absolutely beautiful and luckily has been saved from the wrecking ball more than once.

Thursday, March 4

Classic Rock / Reggae influenced Fingerdiddle is at Trapper’s Tavern in North Creek from 7-10pm. This is a fun two-piece band with a guitar and drummer. Look for them sometime Whitewater Derby weekend as well.
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Finger-Diddle/185969906157
http://www.copperfieldinn.com/events.asp

Friday, March 5

Another duo with guitar and drums – Sirsy is at The Putnam Den in Saratoga at 9pm. There is an opener.
http://www.sirsy.com/
http://www.putnamden.com/

Red Molly will be playing two shows at Caffe Lena in Saratoga, one at 7pm and one at 9:30pm. Caffe Lena’s website says they are “Called “a cross between the Dixie Chicks and O’ Brother, Where Art Thou’” this hot NYC trio blends their voices on irresistible songs by Gillian Welch, Iris DeMent and Hank Williams, adding in bluegrass standards, old-time southern gospel, and classic American tunes. You simply can’t hear them without falling in love.”
Tickets are $20 at the door.
http://www.redmolly.com
http://www.caffelena.com

Eat, Sleep, Funk plays at 20 Main in AuSable Forks at 10pm.
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Eat-Sleep-Funk/162026102287?v=info
http://www.myspace.com/20main

Dave Mason & Leon Russell at The Hart Theater at The Egg in Albany 7pm.
http://www.leonrussellrecords.com/
http://www.theegg.org/

Richie Havens at Proctor’s Theater in Schenectady at 7pm.
http://www.theegg.org/
http://www.eighthstep.org/8thstep/Home.html

Tim Herron Corporation at Slicker’s in Old Forge at 9pm.
http://www.timherroncorporation.com/fr_index.cfm
http://www.myspace.com/slickers_tavern

Saturday, March 6

Tim Herron Corporation at the Monopole in Plattsburgh at 9pm.
http://www.timherroncorporation.com/fr_index.cfm
http://www.monopole.org/

Jimkata at The Putnam Den in Saratoga at 9pm.
http://www.myspace.com/jimkatamusic
http://www.putnamden.com

Jen Gadway is a solo singer/guitar player who will be playing at Laura’s Tavern in North Creek at 9pm.
http://www.laurastavern.com

Wednesday, March 10

Vinnie Leddick at barVino in North Creek at 7pm.
http://www.barvino.net

Photo: Courtesy of Leon Russell


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Birders Flock to View Rare Visitor From the Arctic

Over the past two weeks dozens if not hundreds of birders from New York and nearby states have traveled to Rouses Point to see an Ivory Gull, one of the rarest birds in the U.S. With its striking white plumage and blue-gray, orange-tipped bill, an adult Ivory Gull is also one of the most subtedly beautiful birds in the world.

Ivory Gulls spend most of their time feeding along the edges of the pack ice in the Arctic Ocean, where they search for food, only rarely venturing further south than coastal Laborador and Newfoundland. Feeding mostly on small fish, Ivory Gulls also search out and scavange the carcasses of seals killed by polar bears. The Rouses Point bird seems to have been enticed to remain for a couple of weeks by handouts from ice fishermen. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, March 4, 2010

4-H Offers Shooting Sports Archery Program

A three day 4-H Shooting Sports Archery workshop will be held on Thursday, March 11th from 6pm-8pm , Thursday, March 18th from 6pm-8pm and Saturday, March 20th from 10am-1pm (bring a lunch). Participants must attend all three classes. This will be a free program for 4-H members for non-members a fee of $5 will be collected.

This program is for children 9 years old and over and will cover the fundamental safety steps for handling a bow. Steps such as: equipment matching, use of personal safety equipment, range rules, developing a sight picture, etc. The bows, arrows, tabs, arm guards, and targets are all provided for this event.

As with all NYS 4-H Shooting Sports programs, Warren County instructors are either State, or Nationally certified in their area of discipline. Safety is always the primary focus of the program.

All participants must be registered 4-H members to participate for insurance reasons. The $5 fee for non-members includes a membership in Warren County 4-H. The class is limited to 18 youth and pre-registration is required. For more information or to pre-register please call 623-3291 or 668-4881.

Photo: Caroline Lomnitzer, Archery Program.


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Viper’s Bugloss: An Adirondack Roadside Attraction

When summer is in full swing, it is to the meadows and fields that we must head to feast our eyes on the riotous colors of the season. Wildflowers fill the open spaces where sunlight reaches the ground. In many places within the Adirondack Park, however, the only open spaces are the shoulders of the roads. Fortunately, many plants colonize these precarious environs, their tastes turned to harsh soils and microclimates. Among summer’s roadside colonizers we find viper’s bugloss (Echium vulgare), a plant that brings a bit of the sky to earth.

Viper’s bugloss (aka: blueweed, snake flower and blue devil) is one of the more attractive flowers gracing our barren roadsides. Growing upwards of a meter in height, its stem is topped with a spire dotted with many blue-pink blossoms, which open sequentially throughout the season. When the flowers first open, they are a bright rosy pink; as they age, they turn a beautiful sky blue. The long stamens, which protrude beyond the flower’s petals, remain a deep pink, giving the blossom an eye-catching “sky-blue-pink” coloration.

Most wildflowers we find blooming along our roadways are non-natives, plants that either came over with early colonists as food or medicine and later escaped from their gardens, or plants that snuck in on the shoes, clothing and other belongings of settlers from across the sea. Viper’s bugloss (pronounced BEW-gloss, by the way) falls into the former category. Back in the “old country,” which in this case is most of Europe and much of Asia, it was revered as a cure for many poisons and snake bites. The logic behind this attribution harkens back to the Doctrine of Signatures, a philosophy that declared that if a plant had a part that resembled a part of the human body, then it must be a cure for ailments of said part. With the plant in question, the seeds apparently look like snake heads, and therefore the leap of logic was that it could be used to treat snake bites.

I have a better theory. If one takes a close look at this plant, one sees that it is covered with many small hairs. These hairs are not soft and cuddly; instead, they are sharp and prickly. If grabbed with a bare hand, the plant can “bite” back, impaling its antagonist with its irritating hairs. It is possible this could feel like one has been bitten, and what would be lurking around plants in dry, barren places but venomous vipers! If one’s going to jump to conclusions, at least this one makes (some) sense.

Modern day practitioners of herbal medicines make an infusion from the leaves of viper’s bugloss to treat inflammation and melancholy, as well as to reduce fevers and relieve coughs. However, the plant is known to contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids, chemicals that if consumed in enough quantity can cause liver failure. In fact, the ASPCA lists viper’s bugloss as a serious toxin for horses, which will eat it if nothing else is around (so much for the deterrent quality of the prickly hairs).

Nevertheless, the plant has some redeeming qualities. In Europe Echium is harvested as an oilseed crop (technically, it is E. platagineum, not E. vulgare, that is harvested for this oil, but let’s not quibble). Apparently the oil is full of omega fatty acids, specifically gamma linoliec acid (GLA) and stearidonic acid (SdA). These two fatty acids are essential to the human body, and yet the body does not produce them; they must be acquired from outside sources.

Bees and butterflies frequent the plants, seeking the nectar within each semi-tubular bloom. I’ve watched many a bee happily bumbling along from blossom to blossom, oblivious to my curious eyes. Not only does the plant appeal to bees, but a quick scan online turned up a couple sources that sell viper’s bugloss honey, claiming it is tasty with a chewy consistency.

A member of the borage family, viper’s bugloss shares many of the same qualities of borage, including the light blue flowers, and the rapidity in which it spreads (the plants readily reseed themselves). The flowers of both are also edible: it is not uncommon for them to be crystallized and tossed in salads.

For the hobbyist who likes to try her hand at natural dying, the root is known for producing a red dye for fabrics.

Still, we must remember that this plant is not native, and thanks to its reseeding capabilities, it can spread with relative ease. As such, viper’s bugloss is considered a noxious weed in many states and eradication programs are in place to eliminate the plant where it has taken hold. I’ve checked various invasive plant lists for New York, and viper’s bugloss is not listed on any of them. So, enjoy the plant when you see it along the roadside. Take some photographs, dig up a root or two and tie-dye a t-shirt, toss some flowers in your salad, but don’t plant it in your gardens at home. Leave it along the roadside, where it can wave at passersby with its cheerful blossoms.

For some truly stunning photographs of this roadside plant, visit: http://www.microscopy-uk.org.uk/mag/indexmag.html?http://www.microscopy-uk.org.uk/mag/artfeb04/bjbugloss.html


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Alan Wechsler: The Beauty of Lake Ice

A few weeks ago, while trudging across Chapel Pond on our way to climb some obscure ice route, I stopped to gaze at the black, slick surface of the lake.

The wind had swept the lake clear of snow, except where it had collected in a few wispy areas. It was what drivers call “black ice,” but it was far from black.

It was dazzling, this frozen surface. A week earlier, hit by the late January thaw, it had been covered with brown runoff. But on this day it was more than a foot thick. A galaxy of bubbles were trapped in its various, transparent layers. Cracks ran across its surface, the thin ones bisecting the ice like ghosts, the thicker spaces filled with snow.

Ice formation is complex. According to one Web site: “ice has a hexagonal crystal structure with a longer ‘c’ axis and three identical ‘a’ axes (called ‘a1’, ‘a2’ and ‘a3’). The simple ice form is a hexagonal prism with the vertical direction being the ‘c’ axis direction.”

Uh, right. And we thought it was just a matter of water getting cold enough.

On Chapel Pond, the three of us paused over this surface, taking in the temporary beauty of winter. Bare ice like this in the Adirondacks is often rare, soon to be covered by snow. And it attracts visitors. Drive across Cascade Lakes at the right time and you might see locals skating across the long, narrow surface as late-afternoon snow whips across the pass.

On Lake Champlain when it finally freezes, some die-hard Vermonters skate out on Nordic Skates, a Scandinavian invention (of course). These are extra-large skates that attach to cross-country ski boots that allow for huge strides and marathon expeditions. This has its own dangers—big lakes have pressure ridges, areas of open water and the possibility of thin ice due to unseen currents. Practitioners of this sport wear garden rake-like claws on a rope around their neck, so that if the unthinkable occurs they can haul themselves out of the water before hypothermia sets in. Brrr.

Adventurers on motorized equipment are attracted to big water ice too. Ice on lakes like George and Champlain is strong enough to support snowmobiles, motorcycles with spiked wheels and even pick-up trucks. But they should be wary—occasionally, such drivers never return.

Whatever beauty the ice offers, it is gone now. The storms of last week have covered all but the windiest areas with blankets of snow. That means the ice will last longer this spring, thanks to a nice layer of insulation.

Snow adds its own interesting problems to travel over ice. Some say the weight of snow can push lake ice down, squeezing the water up through the cracks to saturate the lower layers of the snow. That means an unpleasant surprise for x-c skiers or snowshoers trudging through such glop.

So perhaps it’s too late this year, but if you happen to be traveling over bare lake ice, take a moment to stop and look. There’s magic between you and the water.


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Saranac Lake Honors Olympians in Parade Friday: Updated

The village of Saranac Lake will hold a parade for local Olympians at 4 p.m. this Friday. Nordic-combined skier and medalist Billy Demong of Vermontville, biathletes Lowell Bailey and Haley Johnson of Lake Placid and and Tim Burke of Paul Smiths, ski jumper Peter Frenette of Saranac Lake, lugers Chris Mazdzer of Saranac Lake and Mark Grimmette of Lake Placid, and bobsledder John Napier of Lake Placid will be among honored guests.*

The parade begins at the Post Office on Broadway and winds down Main Street to the Harrietstown Hall, where a ceremony and autograph-signing session will be held. Local kids from Saranac Lake’s schools, Mount Pisgah downhill ski area, Dewey Mountain cross-country ski area and other organizations will also march.

The event had originally been planned for March 13 but was changed to accommodate the schedules of the athletes, whose competition season is not over. The Saranac Lake Women’s Civic Chamber is the primary organizer. The Olympic Regional Development Authority and the Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce are partners. Contact the chamber if you would like more information (518-891-1990).

*Other Olympians may be in attendance—to be updated.

Photograph of the Harrietstown Hall with banners depicting Mazdzer, Demong, Burke and Frenette.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Adirondack Family Activities: Saranac Lake Cabin Fever Film Festival

For the ninth year the Cabin Fever Film Festival will be hosting classic films in Saranac Lake each Wednesday in March. Organizer Tim Fortune says,“ We are now located at the John Black Room of the Saranac Lake Laboratory. It is a great venue. This is our third location since we started nine years ago. We started at the Hotel Saranac and had one season at Pendragon Theatre. With the setting of this historic building and showing these old classic movies gives the John Black Room the intimate feeling of a home movie theatre.”

For the first time the Cabin Fever Festival committee has chosen a slightly different format. In past years the Festival consisted of a short film or cartoon and a feature film. This year on Wednesdays, episodes of the 1932 serial Heroes of the West will be shown along with six cartoons and comedy shorts. Each evening will then be a continuation of the “cliffhanger” ending from the previous show of Heroes of the West.

“We are showing all shorts,” says Fortune. “W. C. Fields, Laurel and Hardy, Charlie Chaplin, The Three Stooges, Our Gang, Buster Keaton as well as a classic cartoon each night.”

“We have always been fortunate in the past with local sponsors. Putting on Cabin Fever is very expensive. This year Cape Air has generously sponsored the whole festival with Compass Printing providing the posters and programs.”

Along with Fortune, four other volunteers meet to brainstorm about the Cabin Fever Film Festival schedule and provide multiply duties to pull off the event each year. Fortune credits Bruce Young, Chris Brescia, Danny Ryan and Charles Alexander with making the Festival happen.

“We are all volunteers and any profit goes toward supporting other arts endeavors like the Third Thursday Art Walks that run from June through September,” says Fortune.

Across the street from the Saranac Lake Laboratory, Executive Chef of the Robert Louis Stevenson Tea Room Les Hershhorn, is creating a special weekly buffet for those interested in “Dinner and a Movie.”

Hershhorn states, “There will be a new menu each week. We will feature various international buffets for $25 per person. This week we have a Spanish cuisine with a chicken and sausage paella, salad, vegetable dish, home baked breads and dessert. Last year during the Film Festival we did a Mexican buffet, Indian night and other international flavors. The buffet starts at 5:30 and reservations are required.”

Hershhorn wants everyone to know that children are welcome and to please ask for pricing when making the reservations. He expects more families to come this year because of the “shorts” format of this year’s Cabin Fever Film Festival.

The Robert Louis Stevenson Tea Room, 78 Church Street, and the John Black Room of the Saranac Lake Laboratory are linked in history. The RLS Tea Room was the original home of Dr. Hugh Kinghorn one of the original founders of the RLS Society of America. The Stevenson Society’s goal was to preserve the Baker Cottage (where Stevenson spent time while attempting to recover from TB while in Saranac Lake), original manuscripts and a collection of his artifacts. Across the street the Cabin Fever Film Festival takes place in Dr. Trudeau’s laboratory, now the home to Historic Saranac Lake. Dr. Trudeau was not only a renowned physician but a pioneer in Tuberculosis research and a founding member of the Stevenson Society as well.

General admission is $6.00 per film or $25.00 for all five; Students and seniors are $5.00 or $20.00 for all five while children twelve and under are free. Subscriptions may be purchased up to the first day of the series, March 3. The film starts at 7:00 p.m. each Wednesday in March at the Saranac Lake Laboratory 89 Church Street. For more information call Tim Fortune at 891-1139.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

"Epic Stories of the Iroquois" at the Adirondack Museum

The Iroquois people are the original residents of what is now New York State. There were five tribes in the first Confederacy: the Mohawk, Seneca, Oneida, Onondaga, and Cayuga. Eventually, a sixth nation, the Tuscarora tribe, joined.

On Sunday, March 14 Mohawk storyteller Darren Bonaparte will recount stories and legends of the Rotinonhsion:ni (Iroquois), including “The Creation Story” and “The Great Peacemaker” at the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake. The program, “Epic Stories of the Iroquois,” is part of the Cabin Fever Sunday series.

Darren Bonaparte is a storyteller, Mohawk historian, artist, teacher, and maker of wampum belts from Akwesasne. He is the author of Creation and Confederation: The Living History of the Iroquois as well as A Lily Among Thorns: The Mohawk Repatriation of Káteri Tekahkwí:tha.

Bonaparte is a also former elected chief of the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne. His articles have been published in Aboriginal Voices, Winds of Change, The Nation, and Native American magazine. He is also the creator of “The Wampum Chronicles: Mohawk Territory on the Internet” at www.wampumchronicles.com.

The presentation will be held in the Auditorium, and will begin promptly at 1:30 p.m. Cabin Fever Sunday programs are offered at no charge to museum members. The fee for non-members is $5.00. There is no charge for children of elementary school age or younger. Refreshments will be served. For additional information, please call the Education Department at (518) 352-7311, ext. 128 or visit the museum’s web site at
www.adirondackmuseum.org .

Also on March 14, the Adirondack Museum Education Department will hold an Open House for Educators from 1:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m. Area teachers are invited to visit the Mark W. Potter Education Center to discover the variety of hands-on programs available for students in Pre-K through grade 12. All are designed to meet curricular needs. Educators can learn about the museum’s School Membership program and enter to win a day of free outreach classes for their school. For more information, contact Christine Campeau at (518) 352-7311, ext. 116 or ccampeau@adkmuseum.org.

Photo: Darren Bonaparte with wampum.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

APA Approves Route 30 Cell Tower, More Planned

On February 19th the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) issued a permit to Verizon Wireless and the Duane Volunteer Fire Company authorizing the construction of a cellular tower and the collocation of emergency communication equipment. The approval came to Verizon’s surprise, the Adirondack Daily Enterprise is reporting, as the company had been planning on withdrawing the permit application. The tower, if it is constructed by Verizon, would broaden cellular coverage along NYS Route 30 and improve emergency service communications in Franklin County. This is the third Verizon Wireless approval in 2010.

The site is along the south side of County Route 26 in northern Duane, Franklin County on lands owned by the Duane Volunteer Fire Company. The approved tower is 80-feet tall and was expected to include two whip antennas, one 18-foot for Franklin County Emergency Services and another 16-foot for the Duane Volunteer Fire Company which will extend above the tower itself for a total height of 98 feet.

According to an APA press release “Agency staff determined the tower and antenna array would not be readily apparent from off site locations. The tower will be painted a dark grey or black color with a non-reflective or matte finish. This site is also located in close proximity to existing telephone and electric power.”

Last year the agency issued 31 telecommunication permits, including 14 new towers, 14 collocation projects, 1 replacement and 2 replacement/collocation permits. To-date the agency issued 195 telecommunication permits resulting in the construction of 118 structures.

The APA is currently reviewing another ten applications for the following locations:

1 in Town of Dresden (behind Hulett’s Landing fire station)

1 in Town of Fine (NYS Route 3 – Star Lake hamlet)

1 in Town of Minerva (NYS Route 28 & More Memorial Hwy)

1 in Town of Chesterfield (Virginia Drive)

1 in Town of Clifton (NYS Route 3, Cranberry Lake)

1 in Town of Chester (NYS Route 9, Word of Life)

1 in Town of Wilmington (NY Route 86)

1 in Town of Queensbury (West Mountain Road)

1 in Town of Westport (Boyle Road)

1 in Town of Fort Ann (collocation on existing simulated tree tower)

The following description of the implementation of the APA’s Towers Policy come from an APA press release:

The agency’s Towers Policy, revised in February of 2002, discourages mountaintop towers and promotes the collocation of facilities on existing structures. The policy is intended to protect the Adirondack Park’s aesthetic and open space resources by describing how to site telecommunication towers so they are not readily apparent. The natural scenic character of the Adirondack Park is the foundation of the quality of life and economy of the region, long recognized as a uniquely special and valuable State and National treasure.”

The policy also recognizes the importance for telecommunications and other technologies to support the needs of local residents, the visiting public and the park’s economic sector. The policy includes guidance for telecommunication companies to ensure successful implementation of projects.

Guidance includes: avoiding locating facilities on mountaintops and ridge lines; concealing any structure by careful siting, using a topographic or vegetative foreground or backdrop; minimizing structure height and bulk; using color to blend with surroundings; and using existing buildings to locate facilities whenever possible.


Monday, March 1, 2010

Beaver River: Dispute Over Access

Beaver River (nine year-round residents) is not the easiest place to visit. Most tourists get there by driving along remote, dirt roads to Stillwater Reservoir and then taking a boat for six miles or so to the hamlet.

For years, the Thompson family has run a water taxi between the reservoir’s boat launch and the hamlet. The Thompsons also operate a barge that ferries vehicles across an arm of the reservoir to a dirt road that can be driven to Beaver River. In winter, it’s also possible to reach the community by snowmobile.

Last year the state Department of Environmental Conservation refused to issue the Thompsons a permit to continue their water taxi and ferry, contending that the family’s operations at the state-owned launch amount to an illegal use of the Forest Preserve.

The Thompsons ran the water taxi and ferry without a permit in 2009, but it’s doubtful that DEC will look the other way this year. In January, DEC wrote a letter demanding that the family cease its operations at the launch and remove its docks from state land.

The Thompsons, who run the Norridgewock inn and restaurant in Beaver River, say DEC would cut off access to the hamlet and hurt their business.

Alan Wechsler wrote about the dispute in the March/April issue of the Adirondack Explorer. Click here to read the story.

Soon after the story’s appearance online, the Explorer received some e-mails and phone calls from owners of summer camps at Beaver River. It seems that not everyone in Beaver River supports the Thompsons. The Explorer was told that many people with camps oppose the Thompsons’ efforts to secure road access to the hamlet. These people like the isolation.

DEC is negotiating with the Thompsons to try to settle the matter, but if the talks fail, the controversy could come to a head after the ice thaws and the summer people start returning to Beaver River.

Photo by Phil Brown: The Thompson family’s barge at Stillwater Reservoir.


Monday, March 1, 2010

2009 Bear Hunting Harvest Largest in NY History

Bear harvest numbers in 2009 were the second-highest ever recorded in New York State, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced today. Last fall’s harvest was only exceeded by 2003’s record total.

Statewide, hunters took 1,487 black bears in 2009 – a 15 percent increase from the 1,295 taken in 2008. The 2009 increase is principally due to a strong surge in bear harvest in the Adirondack region, where the 814 bears taken in 2009 was a 40 percent increase over 2008. In 2003, 1,864 bears were harvested statewide. » Continue Reading.


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