Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Lake George ‘Pinnacle’ Protection, Trails Planned

PinnacleThe Pinnacle, the Bolton landmark visible from Lake George and the Cat and Thomas Mountains Preserve, may be protected from development after all. More than five years after Ernest Oberer first proposed building houses on the ridgeline, the Lake George Land Conservancy intends to purchase the property, said Jamie Brown, the Conservancy’s new executive director.

“We spent so much time trying to protect this property, and though there were many ups and downs, we never gave up,” said Nancy Williams, who was in the process of negotiating the transaction in December, even as she was preparing to step down from her position as the Conservancy’s executive director.

With an easement in place prohibiting any development on the property, the Town of Bolton would be in a position to purchase the Pinnacle from the Conservancy for recreational purposes and help defray the cost of the property’s protection, said Bolton Supervisor Ron Conover.

As of January, the costs to the Conservancy and to the Town had yet to be made public. “The transaction has been structured so that it fits with the sellers’ wishes and our ability to pay,” said Williams. The price of the property to the Town would be far less than its market value, said Conover.

“The Town and the people of Bolton are the beneficiaries,” said Williams. “You can’t put a value on it,” Conover said. “Land protection is investment in our future.  The protection of the Pinnacle, of its viewshed and with its potential for recreational trails, is a gift to the Town.”  According to Williams, the difference between the purchase price and the price offered to the town will be met by donors.

According to Conover, a system of trails linking the Pinnacle, the Cat and Thomas Mountain Preserve and the Conservation Park is in the process of being developed. The system includes easements across private properties, and several landowners have already agreed to donate those easements, said Conover.  He said the Town’s ultimate goal is to link the trail system to the hamlet of Bolton Landing.

That’s not an unreasonable goal, according to Williams. “In most communities, once a trail plan is established, landowners will help complete it,” he said.

A Town to Peaks trail system, one that includes the Pinnacle, was a recommendation of a  “Trails Master Plan” developed by Tracy Clothier of the LA Group with a $69,000 state grant, recalled Conover.

“The Pinnacle was the major, missing element in Bolton’s ‘Trails Master Plan.’ It really is the jewel in the crown. If we had lost it, we would have lost not only a vista but a piece of the plan,” said Conover. “Once we’ve protected the Pinnacle, we need a strategy to package and market this new trails system,” he added.

Town councilwoman Sue Wilson said,  “We’ve talked about creating hiking trails from town to Cat Mountain for years, because one of the questions we’re frequently asked is where to hike. We’d like to make Bolton a destination for hikers.”

The protection of the Pinnacle now, Wilson said, “is an opportunity that will never present itself again.”

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Anthony F. Hall is the editor and publisher of the Lake George Mirror.

Anthony grew up in Warrensburg and after an education that included studying with beat poet Gregory Corso on an island in the Aegean, crewing a schooner in Hawaii, traveling through Greece and Turkey studying Byzantine art and archeology, and a stint at Lehman Brothers, he returned to the Adirondacks and took a job with legendary state senator Ron Stafford.

In 1998, Anthony and his wife Lisa acquired the Lake George Mirror, once part of a chain of weekly newspapers owned by his father Rob Hall.

Established in the 1880s, the Mirror is America’s oldest resort newspaper.

4 Responses

  1. Charlie S says:

    How so wonderful to see another landowner not go the way of your average landowner who will usually sell his or her soul for a dollar. Good news like this is always welcome and I wish there were more of it. A big thank you to you Ernest Oberer for your virtuous contribution to future generations.

  2. lauren says:

    Consider the chances of getting a subdivision and road to that property approved.

    • Tony Hall says:

      Lauren: a subdivision was approved for that site. After reviewing the proposed subdivision in 2009, the Bolton Planning Board approved the project, but not because a majority of its members favored an approval. With two members absent, having recused themselves, the proposal could not muster the support of a majority at a December, 2009 meeting. Lawyers for the developers pointed out that the Board’s vote did not mean the project had been denied. Instead, citing state law and local zoning codes, they argued that a stalemate constitutes “no action” rather than a denial. The project was approved by default. Last fall, the developers returned to the Planning Board. “The owner recognizes that some members of the Planning Board had concerns with the previous plan and he wants to produce a subdivision that the entire Board can be happy with,” a representative said. That’s where the project stood until the Lake George Conservancy stepped in.

  3. Wally Elton says:

    I hope this works out. When I visit the Lake George area, it is because of trails and protected places like this.

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