Posts Tagged ‘St Lawrence County’

Monday, July 13, 2009

Adirondack County Fairs 2009 Schedule

Local county fairs start this week, so here is our full list of Adirondack county fairs, listed according to opening date. As usual, I’ve included a few of the most important regional fairs as well. See you at the fair!

July 14 – 19
Jefferson County Fair (Watertown)

July 14 – 19
Saratoga County Fair, Ballston Spa

July 21 – 25
Lewis County Fair (Lowville)

July 21 – 26
Clinton County Fair (Morrisonville)

July 27 – Aug 2
Oneida County (Boonville)

August 1
Warren County Youth Fair (Warrensburg)

August 3 – 9
St. Lawrence County Fair (Gouverneur)

August 8 – 16
Franklin County Fair (Malone)

August 12 – 16
Essex County Fair (Westport)

August 18 – 23
Herkimer County Fair (Frankfort)

August 24 – 30
Washington County Fair (Greenwich)

August 27 – September 7
New York State Fair (Syracuse)

August 29 – September 7
Champlain Valley Fair (Essex, Vermont)

September 4-13
Vermont State Fair (Rutland, Vermont)


Monday, July 6, 2009

Adirondack Park Agency July Meeting Agenda

The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) will hold its regularly scheduled monthly meeting on Thursday, July 9 and Friday July 10 at APA Headquarters in Ray Brook, NY. The July meeting will be webcast live on the Agency’s homepage. The Full Agency will convene on Thursday morning at 9:00 for the Acting Executive Director’s monthly report. Here is the full APA agenda:

At 9:15 a.m., the Regulatory Programs Committee will consider a proposal from the Franklin County Industrial Development Agency and Graymont Materials (NY) Inc. to undertake a two-lot subdivision and relocate Graymont’s existing ready-mix concrete batch plant from the Village of Tupper Lake to an existing 135+/- acre business park located on the westerly side of Pitchfork Pond Road in the Town of Tupper Lake, Franklin County.

The new facility would be located on a 5.07+/- lot and include a ready-mix concrete batch plant, a boiler room, an office/lab, a stockpile area of crushed stone and sand, and parking areas. A self contained/recycling truck washout pit which would contain all material washed off/out of the trucks would also be located on project site.

Key issues include revisions to business park covenants, potential impacts to adjoining land uses, visual impacts and local approvals.

Next the committee will consider a second permit renewal for a single- family dwelling and temporary two-lot subdivision into sites in the town of Webb, Herkimer County.

The committee will also determine approvability for a Verizon proposed 74-foot telecommunications tower and 10-foot lightning rod for an overall height of 84-feet. The proposed tower would be installed east of the Northway in the Town of North Hudson, Essex County adjacent to the northbound High Peaks Rest Stop, which is located between exits 29 and 30, on Interstate 87.

Key issues include Agency Towers Policy compliance and co-location potential.

At 11:30, the Legal Affairs Committee will receive an update on the Agency’s proposed legislation involving affordable housing incentives, permit reforms and community planning funds. Staff will also provide a status update on current regulatory revision.

At 1:00, the Park Policy and Planning Committee will consider a Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement and authorization for staff to conduct a public hearing for proposed map amendments to the Official Adirondack Park Land Use and Development Plan. The Town of Inlet, Hamilton County is requesting the reclassification of approximately 1,913 acres of private land. The proposals are located in four areas throughout the town and would result in the reclassification of:

• Low Intensity Use to Moderate Intensity Use; 203.4+/- acres • Low Intensity Use to Moderate Intensity Use; 23.6+/- acres • Rural Use to Moderate Intensity Use; 1043.7+/- acres • Low Intensity Use to Moderate Intensity Use; 642.6+/- ac

Following this discussion the committee will hear a presentation from Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages President Brain Towers and Jim Martin from the LA Group on the recently completed Adirondack Park Regional Assessment Project. The discussion will focus on the community infrastructure inventory that was conducted as part of the regional assessment.

At 2:30, the Administration Committee will hear a final reading and possibly adopt revisions to the Agency’s Policy & Guidance System. In addition, Acting Executive Director James Connolly will inform the committee about ongoing landscaping efforts at the APA facility in Ray Brook.

At 3:30, the Enforcement Committee will come to order for administrative enforcement proceedings related to alleged permit violations resulting from non compliant signage on commercial businesses in the Town of Ticonderoga, Essex County and an alleged wetland fill/disturbance violation on a private property in the Town of Hopkinton, St Lawrence County.

On Friday morning at 9:00, the Interpretive Programs Committee will convene for a presentation on regional events planned for the Quadricentennial celebration and events planned for September 19th at the Crown Point Historic Site.

The Full Agency will convene at 10:00 to take action as necessary and conclude the meeting with committee reports, public and member comment.

Meeting materials are available for download from the Agency’s website at: http://www.apa.state.ny.us/Mailing/0907/index.htm

The next Agency meeting is August 13-14, 2009 at the Adirondack Park Agency Headquarters.

September Agency Meeting September 10-11, 2009, Adirondack Park Agency Headquarters.


Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Adirondacks: Gateway for Quebec Hydroponic Marijuana

Quebec, with its cheap hydropower and proximity to a porous section of the U.S. border, produces massive amounts of warehouse-grown high-THC marijuana.

A billion dollars worth of this weed funnels through Clinton, Franklin, and St. Lawrence counties annually, according to Franklin County District Attorney Derek Champagne. A look at the map is all it takes to see that much of it travels through the Adirondack Park on its way to Albany, New York City, Boston, Philadelphia and as far south as Florida.

Adirondackers are mostly oblivious to this traffic, with its high stakes and organized crime, including the Russian mob, Irish mob and Hell’s Angels. But the lure of big money has attracted some North Country residents to sideline in the business, including a store owner/construction contractor from St. Regis Falls, law enforcement officials said Wednesday.

Every other week for at least the past two years, a hundred or so pounds of marijuana valued at around $500,000 per shipment would leave northern New York and be transported by car to Cleveland, Ohio, authorities say. At first, police in the Cleveland area identified Daniel Simonds, a 31-year-old resident of Stockholm, in St. Lawrence County, as the deliveryman. But then Simonds was shot and killed in his home a year ago.

Investigators continued to watch Cleveland drug-ring suspects believed to have connections with the Russian mob. They got in touch with North Country law enforcement, confirming that shipments were still coming from this region, specifically from Franklin County. Police would not give details on their surveillance methods, but they say that suppliers from Cleveland would rent a car every other weekend and drive to their pick-up spot, a rustic camp on the St. Regis River in St. Regis Falls belonging to Harold Fraser, a 43-year-old St. Regis Falls resident who also owns the Hill Top Stop market and construction business in that Adirondack hamlet and whose arrest on drug possession charges was announced Wednesday.

The Cleveland drivers would wait at Fraser’s camp for a shipment of Quebec marijuana, which would cross the Canadian border via several entry points, but usually through the Akwesasne Reservation, according to David Leu, the Drug Enforcement Agency’s resident agent in charge for Northern New York. Jurisdictional ambiguities inside Mohawk nation land, which straddles the U.S.-Canada border on the St. Lawrence River, have fostered a smuggling economy. After a few hours at the St. Regis Falls camp, the drivers would receive the hydroponic, hand over the cash (hidden inside a computer hard-drive shell in at least one instance) and be on their way back to Cleveland, sometimes supplying other areas in New York State and the Northeast, Champagne says.

“In this case, in a one-year period, in excess of 18 loads were confirmed between Franklin County and Ohio with the average load having a street value in excess of $500,000. The organization has been operating in excess of 2-3 years allowing for an approximate street value of 18 to 27 million dollars during the known period of operation,” a press release states.

Eight operators described as “mid-level” have been arrested, five in Northern New York and three in Ohio so far. Leu says, “There are definitely going to be other arrests.” St. Lawrence County District Attorney Nicole Duve says the drug network is linked to the killing of Daniel Simonds but she would not elaborate because an investigation is ongoing. She says seven defendants are under indictment in the homicide case, two of them in Canada, and one remains at large.

The arrests resulted from search warrants executed June 15 in Cleveland and at three North Country residences and at the Hill Top Stop. Police would not comment on the convenience store’s role in the case. The warrants netted $1.3 million in cash as well as a pound of cocaine and another $700,000 in assets, including 14 vehicles, two utility trailers, three ATVs, a snowmobile and a boat. Leu says any day police take $1.3 million in cash out of the illegal-drug loop is a good day, and he expects the money to support further North Country drug interdiction efforts.

Champagne says marijuana-importing networks on this scale are not unusual in the North Country anymore. “Unfortunately we know a dozen groups that move that kind of volume,” he says.

Photo: The St. Regis Falls camp where marijuana transfers allegedly took place – the photo was supplied by law enforcement officials. To see more of their photos click here.


Monday, June 29, 2009

Latest APA Classifications: Public Comments Sought

The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) has opened the public comment period and will conduct three public hearings on its proposals to classify and reclassify 12,545 acres of state lands and water of the Five Ponds Wilderness Area, Lows Lake Primitive Area, Hitchens Pond Primitive Area, Round Lake Wilderness Area Lows Lake, Hitchens Pond and the Bog River. These areas are located in the northwest part of the Adirondack Park in Hamilton and St. Lawrence Counties. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

UPDATED: Constitutional Amendment for Power Line

One story has been lost in the drama coming out of the New York State Legislature lately: the Constitutional amendment. In May, before it became completely dysfunctional, the NYS Senate passed a bill that would give after-the-fact permission for a new power line from Stark Falls Reservoir to the Village of Tupper Lake. The Constitutional Amendment is necessary to provide an exception to the Forever Wild clause of the Constitution (Article 14, Section 1). The Forever Wild clause forbids logging or development on the Adirondack Forest Preserve, and that includes power lines. The Amendment requires passage by two separately elected legislatures, which is now complete, and then approval by voters on a statewide ballot this fall. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Lean2 Resecue Receives DEC’s Adirondack Stewardship Award

On National Trails Day, June 6, at an event in Wanakena, St. Lawrence County, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) presented its Adirondack Stewardship Award to Paul DeLucia of Baldwinsville, Onondaga County, and his organization, known as Lean2Rescue, for their work in restoring Adirondack lean-tos. Since 2004, Lean2Rescue has worked on more than 30 lean-tos in St. Lawrence, Herkimer and Hamilton Counties, primarily along the western edge of the Adirondacks. The Adirondack Stewardship Award is presented by DEC to groups or individuals who demonstrate outstanding stewardship of the natural resources of the Adirondacks.

“With the state facing one of its most severe fiscal crises in history, partnerships with organizations such as Lean2Rescue are even more important in helping DEC protect and manage the Adirondack Forest Preserve,” DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis said in a press release. “DEC is fortunate to have dedicated volunteers like Paul DeLucia and the members of Lean2Rescue who are willing to contribute their time, money, and sweat to ensure our recreational facilities are there for the public to use and enjoy. We are grateful for their hard work and are proud to present them with this prestigious award.”

DEC Region 6 staff from the Divisions of Land and Forests, Operations, and Forest Rangers, along with the volunteers of Lean2Rescue, have rebuilt and renovated a total of 33 different lean-tos in wilderness and wild forest areas within the past four years. Lean2Rescue, with a core group of 20 to 25 members and additional assistance of up to 50 more volunteers, carried in logs, beams, boards, cement, shingles and more by hand, cart, and canoe to reach remote wilderness areas. Facing mud, rain, cold, and bugs, rescuers not only complete their mission of rebuilding a leanto, but then turn around and carry out old materials and debris.

Previous Adirondack Stewardship Award recipients include Chad Dawson of SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry; Joe Martens of the Open Space Institute; Dave Gillespie of the Alpine Club of Canada and the New York State Ranger School; the Family of John E. Foley of St. Lawrence County and John Dent of St. Lawrence County; Friends of Mt. Arab and Mike Carr of the Adirondack Nature Conservancy and Adirondack Land Trust; Sierra Club’s Northeast Outings Committee and St. Lawrence County YCC; Paul Smiths College; the Adirondack Trail Improvement Society; Ward Lumber Company of Essex County; Edwin Ketchledge of Clinton County and the Chris Behr family of Vermont; Clarence Petty of St. Lawrence County and the Warren County Board of Supervisors; the Bouquet River Association of Essex County; and the Fulton Chain of Lakes Association of Herkimer and Hamilton Counties.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Tri-Lakes Power Line Close, More Lines Proposed

We’ve moved one step closer to having a Constitutional Amendment on the ballot in November that affects a corner of the Adirondack Park in Colton in St. Lawrence County. Monday the NYS Senate passed (62-0) a bill that would allow the construction of a power line from Stark Falls Reservoir to the Village of Tupper Lake. The supplemental line would pass through a section of Route 56 roadside within the Adirondack Forest Preserve between Seveys Corners (near the Carry and Starks Falls reservoirs) and the hamlet of South Colton. The line is part of a project to improve power reliability for the Tri-Lakes communities of Tupper Lake, Saranac Lake and Lake Placid. » Continue Reading.


Monday, May 18, 2009

Volunteers: Cranberry Lake 50, National Trails Day

June 6th is National Trails Day and Adirondack region hikers will have an opportunity to volunteer, at Cranberry Lake in the western Adirondacks. Each year, the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) sponsors an event in conjunction with the American Hiking Society’s celebration of National Trails Day. This year, ADK’s event will celebrate the Cranberry Lake 50, the recently completed 50-mile loop around the lake.

According to the ADK: “Volunteers will spend the day performing trail-maintenance work, such as cutting brush, removing blowdown and building waterbars and rock steps, under the supervision of an ADK trail professional. One crew will tour the lake by motorboat, with state Department of Environmental Conservation personnel, to move outhouses and clean up campsites. There will also be a project for kids, planting tree saplings near the Streeter Lake lean-to.” » Continue Reading.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

‘Canton Eddie’ — Turn-of-the-Century Safecracker

Mary Thill’s post about recent Adirondack bank robberies got me thinking about “Canton Eddie” (a.k.a. “Boston Shorty,” Edward Collins, Edward Burns, Harry Wilson and possibly Harry Berger and Eddie Kinsman) who real name is believed to have been Edward Wilson, a native of St. Lawrence County who was born in about 1876 in Canton. He was the perpetrator of a string of daring robberies in New York, Massachusetts, and Vermont, and probably elsewhere during his lengthy career. Using nitro-glycerin and “the rest of the safecracker’s outfit” he blew the safes of more than 30 post offices, including the Montpelier, Vermont Post Office at least twice in 1905 and in 1907. By the time he was arrested for the last time in 1916, he had already served a number of prison sentences totaling more than nine years.

Wilson turned up as part of a gang of burglars who called Rouses Point their home and roamed and robbed many post offices and stores in the Champlain valley in the early-1890s, including the Ticonderoga Post Office. Several were captured in late December 1894. In 1896 Wilson was sentenced to four years in Clinton Prison under the name Eddie Burns. After his release he served another year in the penitentiary in Columbus Ohio under the name Edward Wilson.

During the summer of 1907 Eddie was making camp at Rouses Point and using nitro-glycerin to rob local safes, including those at post offices in Hermon in St. Lawrence County ($800), at Montpelier, Vermont in June and at Sackets Harbor near Watertown in July 1907. In early November he hit the store of A. P. Boomhauer in Mooers Forks and the next day Napierville, Quebec., where Eddie and three accomplices roughed up a bank manager, blew the safe, and then escaped on a railroad hand-car with $2,000. On January 24, 1908 Canton Eddie was already known as a “notorious post office yegg man” when he was arrested in Lyons, New York, with his partner at the time, James Kelley. It’s believed that he was sentenced to four years in Auburn Prison.

By 1911, Canton Eddie was back at work robbing safes, mostly along the Black River Railroad and St. Lawrence River. On Friday May 19, 1911 he hit the Saranac Post Office located in the H.J. Bull general store. Three explosions blew the store windows out and completely destroyed the safe. Eddie was tracked to Cadyville, near Plattsburgh, but escaped. He hit the Trudeau Post Office in early 1911; by then he was being pursued by the New York Central Railroad Detective Joe McWade, who set up headquarters at various times in Saranac Lake. In June 1911 McWade caught Eddie with John Raymond in a Syracuse Hotel with “enough nitro-glycerin, fuses, and caps . . . to blow up an army.” Eddie was also in possession of a razor case with five small saws. Two other accomplices, including an unnamed chauffeur, escaped capture. McWade turned Eddie over to New York Central Police in Utica. According to press reports, prosecutors didn’t have enough evidence to convict him of robbery so he was released.

In May 1912 Eddie robbed the Post Office at Black River and on May 22, 1912 he was captured again near Utica. This time, giving the name Edward Burns, he was taken to Verona, near Rome, and handcuffed to a man named Frank Murray – he almost immediately broke the handcuffs and both men escaped. In September and October Eddie robbed the Norwood and Waddington post offices and took $1,800.

On June 7, 1912 he robbed the Lake Placid Post Office safe by driving to the south shore of Mirror Lake, taking a boat across the lake, sneaking to the Post Office and jimmying a window before going to work on the safe with his explosives. Heavy blankets were laid over the safe to deaden the sound of the explosion, and its said that a man sleeping just 35 feet away was not awakened. When he was finished he returned to the boat, rowed back across the lake, and drove out of town before sunrise with nearly $3,000. It was three hours before the crime was discovered.

In 1913 and 1914 Eddie was responsible for a number of robberies near the Canadian border, including a store in Standish and the Chazy Lake Delaware & Hudson Railroad Station. In April 1915 Canton Eddie Collins and an accomplice hit the Lisbon Post Office and several other area post offices. Despite his growing a beard to avoid being recognized, he was finally caught during the first week of May 1915 in Syracuse with his accomplice James Post, but again there was not enough evidence to convict him of the post office robberies. “The brainiest and nerviest of crooks,” as the Ticonderoga Sentinel called him, plead guilty to a lesser charge of possessing nitro-glycerin and was sentenced to just a year and eight months in Auburn prison.

Beginning around November 1916 thousands of dollars worth of cash started to turn up missing from mail cars traveling between Buffalo and Niagara Falls. In July 1917 Eddie was in fact back working with a two other men near Buffalo, robbing express freight cars at a watering stop at Wende, New York. They robbed the train station at Akron, New York, and the next night were captured as they returned to Wende to break into the Wende Station.

Joe McWade, the New York Central detective who made his headquarters at Saranac Lake during the first search for Canton Eddie, was a man of some adventure himself. In 1913, while on duty at Tupper Lake Junction, he shot two Canadians who were hopping the train when he ordered them off and they ran – one man later died. McWade was arrested and held in the Malone jail; later he was tried for first degree manslaughter, found guilty and fined $500. “The chagrin and remorse which he experienced from his trial and conviction were never forgotten by the detective,” one newspaper reported. “As soon as possible after the trial he sought a position in the southern part of the state where his duties would take him from away from the scene of the unfortunate shooting.”

McWade was once shot several times by a gang of train robbers and for several weeks was hospitalized in Buffalo and near death. After he recovered he went after the same gang and eventually captured them. On another occasion McWade took a job as a porter in a dive hotel where a gang of train robbers were believed to be staying. He got into their good graces and joined them in several robberies of freight cars, helping them bury their loot in a large hole near Lockport, New York. After a week he posted several detectives near the hole and set out with the gang to anther robbery. When they arrived at the hole to deposit their loot, they were all captured.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

APA OKs Lows Lake Floatplane Ban After 2011

Floatplanes will be prohibited from using Lows Lake after 2011 and the lake will be managed as wilderness under a resolution approved today by the Adirondack Park Agency (APA). Neil Woodworth, the Adirondack Mountain Club’s executive director, said the resolution adopted today is positive step and an improvement over earlier proposals for the lake. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Adirondack Canoeing Symposium

Canoeists understand the silent satisfaction of the paddle-powered glide. The late John Jerome, who wrote often of water and of the Adirondacks, described the aesthetics:

“[W]e paddled long enough that I began to feel the enticing sphere of energy in the water beside the boat — all the water I could comfortably reach with the paddle — and got the sense that by shaping it, pushing and pulling against it, carving it, molding it, I could make the canoe go where we wanted it to go. Playing with that added fundamentally to the sensual pleasure of the trip.”

If you’d like to increase your paddle pleasure, “obedience classes” for canoes are held each summer in the Adirondacks. Equal parts woodcraft and ballet camp, the Adirondack Freestyle Symposium promises to add “efficiency, grace and fun” to your boating. Registration just opened for this year’s gathering, which will be held July 19-23 at Houghton College’s Star Lake campus. American Canoe Association–certified instructors will teach a variety of levels, from basic travel technique to omering (an off-keel solo method).

Some advanced freestylers add music and perform a routine. But you don’t have to do that.


Monday, March 2, 2009

A Possible Adirondack Congressional District


View Larger Map
With the approach of the 2010 federal census and the ensuing remapping of representative districts for the state legislature and US Congress, New York’s legislative and executive leaders have a rare opportunity to repair the fractured battlefields of our district maps: the result of decades of partisan turf wars.

If lawmakers are looking for a place to start this process, they might consider the case of the Adirondack Park and the north country.

At present the Adirondack Park’s Blue Line passes through four congressional districts:
The 23rd represented by Republican John McHugh; the open-seated 20th; The 24th represented by Democrat Michael Arcuri; and the 21st (holding just a sliver of parkland in northern Fulton County) represented by Democrat Paul Tonko. Combined, these districts stretch over half the state and contain more than two-and-a-half million residents. Easy enough to see how the interests of the park might become diluted.

The map above advances an alternative: a single congressional district encompassing the entire Adirondack Park plus the balance of St. Lawrence, Franklin, Clinton and Warren Counties, and some parts of Saratoga and Washington Counties beyond the Blue Line. Using numbers from the 2000 census this boundary contains close to the 654,361 New York residents that were required to constitute a district nine years ago. With New York slated to lose one representative in the upcoming reapportionment, and with expected population increases, that 654,361 average will undoubtedly increase for the 2010 redistricting process. As it does, the district can absorb more constituents in Saratoga and Washington Counties (making all efforts to avoid Saratoga Springs, as it would be a pity to deprive Albany’s congressional district of the race track).

There are numerous arguments in favor of a congressional district with the unified park at it’s core. Perhaps the strongest is the intent of federal lawmakers as expressed in the 1965 Federal Voting Rights Act. The law sets out explicit directives that state legislatures create compact and contiguous congressional districts and that they respect natural and artificial boundaries.

This map is merely a starting point. We welcome your comments and any alternative congressional district map you may wish to submit.


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Frozen River, the Oscars, North Country Realism

Frozen River is nominated in two categories of tonight’s Academy Awards: best actress (the very deserving Melissa Leo) and best screenplay (by the equally deserving Courtney Hunt, who is also the film’s director).

If there were awards for North Country realism, Frozen River would run away with the all-time top honor.

The independent movie, filmed in Plattsburgh in 2007 on a budget of less than $1 million, has won 21 prizes, including the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, where Quentin Tarantino called it “one of the most exciting thrillers I am going to see this year.”

The plot centers on two single mothers — one Mohawk, from the Akwesasne Reservation, and one white, living in Massena — on the financial brink. They team up to smuggle illegal immigrants across the St. Lawrence River in the trunk of a car. There is suspense inherent in driving across ice, as a North Country audience knows all too well.

Director Hunt’s husband is from Malone, and her familiarity with local detail is abundant, down to the dirty snowbanks, rez radio, Quebec strip bars, Price Chopper, Yankee One Dollar, purple ties on State Troopers, and WPTZ weatherman Tom Messner giving a perky forecast of 30-below on a Rent-to-Own TV that’s always on inside the trailer of Ray Eddy, the character portrayed by Leo.

The movie also examines the jurisdictional ambiguities of the smuggling economy at Akwesasne, a nation unto itself straddling the U.S.-Canada border.

Other efforts in the bleak-North-Country genre (including an adaptation of Russell Banks’s The Sweet Hereafter, and Vermonter Jay Craven’s Northeast Kingdom movies) seem to sacrifice verisimilitude for art or convenience. Perhaps the truest antecedent for Frozen River is the ice-crossing scene in Uncle Tom’s Cabin, filmed in Port Henry in 1927 (excerpts can be seen here).

Frozen River was released on DVD earlier this month. Trivia/spoiler note: Michael O’Keefe, the actor portraying the State Trooper, played Danny Noonan in Caddyshack 29 years ago.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Federal Stimulus and The Rooftop Highway

The signing this week of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act–the federal economic stimulus package–has spurred a stampede of applicants for financial assistance from every state and every sector of the economy. The State of New York has posted a website spelling out how much of the overall $789 billion will come our way and roughly what types of projects will receive what share over the next two years. To wit: the $789 billion total is divided into $326 billion worth of tax cuts and $463 billion in direct spending. Of that $463 billion, $24.6 billion will come to New York State, and (for example) $1.1 billion of that will be distributed across the state for highway and bridge projects.

This cannot be good news for supporters of the Northern Tier Expressway (aka the Rooftop Highway), the proposed 175-mile four lane divided highway that would link I-81 in Watertown and I-87 in Champlain.

Endorsements from a diverse spectrum of politicians ranging from Richard Nixon to Hillary Clinton have kept this project limping along for nearly fifty years, an eternity for most public works concepts. Persisting doubts about the potential return on the estimated one billion dollar cost of the road have kept the roadway on the drawing board. Any hopes that the federal stimulus might rescue it from its bureaucratic limbo are now pretty well dashed.

While the final draft shows the roadway approaching the Adirondack Park no closer than two miles at its nearest point (near Ellenburg), the potential economic and environmental impacts would spread far inside the Blue Line. In 1999, The New York Times reported Neil Woodworth of the Adirondack Mountain Club supporting the road as a way to open up the western regions of the park to hikers, relieving the congestion in the high peaks. More recently, concerns raised over the impact of highways on wildlife migration patterns have conditioned the enthusiasm. In its conservation report issued last month, the Laurentian Chapter’s incoming vice-chair Peter O’Shea suggests it might be time to take the project off life-support before any federal stimulus money attaches to it.

One final, picky thought on the matter: Anyone who understands metaphor and knows the first thing about house construction can tell you that the nickname, Rooftop Highway is all wrong. Rooftops are exterior surfaces, existing above the space in question. Seen in this light, a Rooftop Highway already exists: Highway 401 just across our rigorously-guarded frontier in Canada. As for the proposed road above the Blue Line and below the border, perhaps renaming it the “Attic Crawl Space Highway” might help lower our expectations.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Short History of Lows Lake on The Bog River

Lows Lake (about 3,100 acres) is located in St. Lawrence and Hamilton counties, part of the St. Lawrence Drainage basin (Raquette Sub-Basin). It’s a ponded water on the Bog River Flow, one of 21 over a square mile in size held back by dams in the St. Lawrence Basin. The largest dammed lake in the basin is Cranberry Lake (just north of Lows Lake), which has regulated the flow of the Oswegatchie River since 1867.

The northeast shore of Lows Lake is privately held, but the rest (except a few small parcels) is mostly surrounded by Forest Preserve. Sabattis Scout Reservation owns a portion of the lake, three islands, and a Boy Scout camp on the north side. The western end of Lows Lake lies deep within the proposed Bob Marshall Wilderness.
» Continue Reading.


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