The Adirondack Council expressed disappointment over Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s decision to withdraw the $3-billion environmental bond act from the 2020 ballot, saying the measure could have helped get New York residents back to work and would have provided significant tax relief to rural communities, while protecting clean water and wildlife.
“We are very disappointed that the bond act has been withdrawn,” said Adirondack Council Deputy Director Rocci Aguirre. “We believe it would have helped to spur economic growth while it benefited the environment.
“The bond act could also have helped in ways that are not readily apparent, such as reduce local taxes by lifting the burden of new wastewater systems from the backs of local taxpayers,” Aguirre said. “But it is discretionary spending at a time when the national economy is in disarray and national leadership is failing to correct course. Without the prospect of new federal aid to states from Congress, we understand why the Governor is reluctant to move forward with new borrowing at this time.
“We urge him to reconsider when the economic outlook brightens,” Aguirre said.
The $3-billion Restore Mother Nature Bond Act was approved in April as part of the state budget. Normally, a bond act would bypass the Governor and go straight to the voters for approval. However, due to the economic uncertainties caused by the COVID-19 crisis, the Legislature made the unusual move of granting the Governor the power to remove it from consideration by the voters. He withdrew it from the statewide ballot today, citing the lack of federal aid to states as his reason.”
Whitney Estate For Sale
The news of the bond act’s withdrawal comes as Congress has reinvigorated the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund. LWCF and other funding sources were used by the state to purchase 14,000 acres and Little Tupper Lake from the Whitney family in 1997. The price was $17 million.
“The entire Whitney Estate has been listed as a priority in the NYS Open Space Protection Plan since it was created in 1993,” said Aguirre. “The lands are listed in our 2020 VISION research series as a component of the Council’s proposed 400,000-acre Bob Marshall Great Wilderness in the west-central Adirondack Park’s Oswegatchie River basin.
“We are grateful to the Whitney family for their decades as committed stewards of their land. Public ownership would ensure that these priceless lands are permanently protected and serve as a lasting legacy for the Whitney family,” he said. “We look forward to working with colleagues in the land trust community and state officials to find ways to secure the possible future protection of these lands. .”
Among the benefits of public ownership of the Whitney Estate would be a motor-free wilderness large enough to accommodate the return of timber wolves, moose and other extirpated species in an area where there are few roads or communities where conflicts could arise, Aguirre said.