Thursday, July 30, 2009

Township 40 Dispute Resolution In The Works?

There is an interesting story over at WNBZ updating the more then 100-year-old dispute between owners of about 1,000 acres in the Hamlet of Raquette Lake, once a part of Township 40, and the State of New York. The dispute is a confusing mess of claims and counter claims, but it looks like there may be a resolution in the works. Of course any deal will require another Forest Preserve land swap and associated Constitutional Amendment. There is a nice recounting of the history of the dispute here.

Here is a taste of the story at WNBZ:

Representatives from the state Department of Environmental Conservation, the Town of Long Lake, Raquette Lake residents, state legislators and several environmental groups are back at the negotiation table in an attempt to end the land dispute once and for all.

Along with dozens of camps and homes, the local fire department and school are among the structures sitting on contested land…

State Senator Betty Little has spent years hashing out the details with all of the involved parties. “The issue right now is for the people in Township 40 who have the private land to decide what it’s worth to them to do one of these swaps and go along with some of the issues that the state would want in exchange,” Little said.

“With the push for the state to clean up all of their old business, this resurfaced,” Long Lake Town Attorney Carl Ferrentino said. “I don’t believe this land is something the state wants to have anyway.”

In 1994, two private claimants defeated the state and established ownership. In 2002, the state was victorious in a similar claim.

The “Township 40” dispute dates back to the 1840s, when New York State sold several large parcels to private landowners. Throughout the last century, state officials claim that much of the property was reacquired by the state through tax sales, but official documentation has often proven hard to come by for nearly half of the disputed parcels, officials said.

Check out the full story here.


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Chris Morris lives in Saranac Lake and is communications manager at ACT, the community foundation of the Adirondacks. He has reported in the past for a variety of news outlets across the North Country, including the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, North Country Public Radio, and Denton Publications. His work has also appeared in the Adirondack Explorer and here at the Adirondack Almanack. He can be reached by email at

ACT, the Adirondack region’s community foundation, works to invest in a brighter future for the Adirondacks by inspiring philanthropy and community investment. Home to more than 220 charitable funds, ACT has awarded some $20 million in grants and scholarships in several broad categories, including education, environment, human well being, community vitality and culture. ACT is also leading a number of initiatives aimed at bolstering Adirondack communities and supporting nonprofit organizations. For more information, visit

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