Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Fragmenting Whitney Park?

whitney parkNews on May 29 comes from the Times Union’s journalist Wendy Liberatore that the late Marylou Whitney’s husband John Hendrickson plans to apply for an 11-lot subdivision of Whitney Industries land in Long Lake.

Unable to sell the 36,000-acres in one fell swoop, Hendrickson tells the TU journalist that he will change the name to Whitney Real Estate and try for a permit allowing one private, two-three-thousand-acre estate on each of 11 lakes, leaving him, he estimates, with $238 million. Such sales would average $6600 per acre. That seems a bit high, but he’ll have the chance to find out.

Whitney Industries, Inc. has for many years enjoyed a special, favored federal corporate tax status. It is a subchapter S corporation which, in essence, gives Mr. Hendrickson limited options for making money on the land. Selling real estate has always been one of those few options, something he says to the TU journalist that he is now forced to do. That priority, of course, conflicts with the land’s longstanding state Forest Tax Law status which offered tax exemptions in exchange for keeping the land in forest and for forestry.

That property tax abatement has saved Whitney’s owners many a local property tax dollar over the decades. Since 1997 local taxing districts have benefited because 15,000 acres went from Whitney Industries into the NYS Forest Preserve by sale in 1997 for $17 million, or $1,100 per acre, thus making those lands and waters fully taxable for all purposes. Those 15,000 acres are part of the William C. Whitney Wilderness area.

Moreover, under Mr. Hendrickson’s scheme isolated, thousand acre private estates within Whitney holdings will cost a lot of money to upgrade and maintain the miles of dirt access roads and to provide fire and other emergency services for part-time residents and their guests. Possibly, these added costs would exceed any gain in local tax revenue.

Mr. Hendrickson says he is an environmentalist. Good news, that, because he should be interested in what conservation science has discovered in the Adirondacks. Thanks to the research of Adirondack conservation scientists like Dr. Michale Glennon and Dr. Heidi Kretser, among others, we have learned a lot about the ecological impact zone around a single house and associated outbuildings, driveways, and access roads plopped down within an Adirondack forest.

Their research, published and entered into public hearing records since 2011, has shown that in an undeveloped Adirondack forest the ecological impact of new development extends hundreds of meters beyond the footprint of the new road, driveway, and structures. An acre of newly developed land at a place like Whitney Park could have an ecological impact of up to fifteen or even more acres surrounding the house/driveway/outbuilding footprint. That is just for one house. So, the spatial design of Mr. Hendrickson’s scheme is as important, if not more so, than the number of principal buildings.

While most of Whitney lands have been intensively cut over from 1899 to 1999, the extensive tree harvesting largely ended by 2000 and in no way alters the ecological potential and connectivity of the property. The 36,000-acres of Whitney private ownership is still forested land heavily intertwined with 22 ponds, numerous permanent and intermittent streams, coniferous swamps, shrub swamps, emergent marshes, and wet meadows.

All those water resources and wetlands, because they are so intact and so ecologically interconnected, contribute to Whitney’s high priority listing in the state’s Open Space Conservation Plan. Whitney has remained on that high priority list since 1992.

The entire acreage is in Resource Management where the legal priority is to “protect the delicate physical and biological resources…and preserve the open spaces that are essential and basic to the unique character of the park.”

APA reinterpreted the priorities for Resource Management during the 2012 Adirondack Club and Resort permit, allowing 80 residences in RM by essentially ignoring some key testimony of its own staff and that from outside experts about the ecological impact zones, and the need to overlap them. Can APA similarly ignore the conservation science and prioritize residential construction at iconic, intact, historic Whitney Park, a priority on the statewide open space plan, called by students of the tract a “cradle of American forestry”?

Applying the average overall intensity guidelines on 36,000-acres in RM, there is the theoretical potential for Mr. Hendrickson to apply for 843 principal buildings. All conservation science aside, the clientele he hopes to attract would not wish 800 other folks, families, guests, and renters living around the next bay of the lake or bend in the road. Hendrickson tells the TU reporter that he will apply for a permit for just 11 “principal buildings.” Lots of privacy there, and what could be the ecological harm of just 11 lots on 36,000 acres? It could be plenty.

It depends on how those desired 11 estates are spatially designed to fit; whether and to what degree the large ecological impact zones of each new home site overlap with each other; and how the layout avoids or fails to avoid large ecological impacts, potentially spread out over thousands of acres.

Conservation subdivision design is clearly called for here.  Conservation design “seeks to shrink the ecological footprint of a proposed development through innovative planning and site design techniques. While the developed footprint and the ecological footprint are never equal, the goal of conservation design is to bring the ecological footprint into closer harmony with that of the developed footprint” (Dr. Michael Klemens in Pathways to a Connected Adirondack Park, Adirondack Wild, 2017). The current APA may call it conservation design, but not actually apply those principles and strategies, as it failed to do very recently at Woodward Lake. Thus, the need for the current conservation subdivision design legislation pending in Albany.

In the early 1990s, Whitney Industries sought 40 new, large residences around Little Tupper Lake, all in RM. The Adirondack Park Agency staff at that time advised the potential applicant that scope of development in that location would not be approved. Perhaps the Whitneys were angling for a land sale to NYS.  Remember that Subchapter S federal tax status. Regardless, after negotiation with APA the applicant was ultimately granted Agency permit 91-53 authorizing three lots and the construction of seven single family dwellings on those lots on Little Tupper Lake. A condition of that permit reserved the right of the agency to require a master plan prior to approving future jurisdictional activities. A few hunting and fishing cabins, as defined in the regulations, were exempted from that condition but never built.

In a subsequent permit (1996, Permit 96-138), APA authorized subdivision of 3 of the lots permitted to be built upon in 1992 on Little Tupper Lake: Camp Bliss, Camp Francis, and Camp on the Point lot. All 3 were deed restricted to prevent further development or subdivision. Whitney pledged no plans to further subdivide.

The APA’s permit went to some length to describe why no more subdivision would be important. APA Permit 96-138 issued to Whitney Industries on August 14, 1996 states:

Paddling near Whitney Park, Long Lake. Photo provided by David Gibson.

“With numerous lakes, ponds, streams, and extensive wetlands, it represents a significant open space and ecological resource of the Adirondack Park. Nowhere in the eastern United States do land resources exist in private holdings of comparable size and extent with the exception of Northern Maine. The open space and ecological values of properties of this size and containing these resources diminish rapidly as they are subdivided.”

Under Findings of Facts for Open Space, Visual and Aesthetic Resources the permit notes that the subdivision is clustered in that the lots to be conveyed are located in the northern end of the project site “with the remainder dedicated to open space, wildlife habitat, watershed, forestry, hunting and recreation and other open space values.”

 Under Forest Resources, the permit states: “A traditional grid subdivision of the property would reduce its future timber potential because segmented ownership would inhibit integrated comprehensive timber management for the entire project site.  The best way to utilize the forest resource and at the same time protect its wildlife and open space values and the water quality of waterbodies and streams on the site is to maintain it in a relatively unsegmented ownership.”

Permit condition 14 restates the 1992 condition: “The Agency reserves the right to require submission of a comprehensive master plan for its review and approval prior to approving any future jurisdictional activities on the project site, whether proposed by the applicant or its successors. The plan shall contain sufficient detail to allow the Agency to assess the impacts of all new land use development and subdivision.”

– APA Permit 96-138

What will be the quality, the detail and the comprehensiveness of a 2021 Whitney master plan that will be considered sufficient by today’s rudderless APA?

The APA acted in 1992 and 1996 to ensure that Resource Management land at Whitney was protected and largely set aside to achieve the APA’s statutory purposes. Will today’s APA act similarly with Mr. Hendrickson and actually honor the Resource Management definition and guidelines? Its decisions since 2012 strongly suggest it may not. Therefore, the new legislation, A. 4074/S.1145, which specifies the conservation design steps APA and large subdividers must take together on a pre-application basis is all the more urgently required. That legislation was the subject of intense negotiation and compromise among stakeholders at town hall meetings in 2017 – 2018.

Top photo: Salmon Lake in the foreground with Rock Lake and Little Tupper Lake in the background. Picture by Nancie Battaglia/Almanack file photo

 

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David Gibson

Dave Gibson, who writes about issues of wilderness, wild lands, public policy, and more, has been involved in Adirondack conservation for over 30 years as executive director of the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks, executive director of Protect the Adirondacks and currently as managing partner with Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve

During Dave's tenure at the Association, the organization completed the Center for the Forest Preserve including the Adirondack Research Library at Paul Schaefer’s home. The library has the finest Adirondack collection outside the Blue Line, specializing in Adirondack conservation and recreation history.

Currently, Dave is managing partner in the nonprofit organization launched in 2010, Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve.




60 Responses

  1. Chris says:

    This is such an interesting moment in the Adirondacks.

  2. Alan West says:

    I would like to see the Whitney estate preserved as is, however I oppose state purchase because of the classification they would give it and because they do not have adequate staff now to do a good job.

  3. geogymn says:

    Have the Feds buy it and start a national park within the blueline

    • Steve B. says:

      What NPS ?, they’re likely more poorly funded then the DEC. Make it a National Forest ?, they’d likely make major improvements to the existing road network.

      This news is really just the opening gambit by Hendrickson to get the State to buy it. Ts a reply on Little Tupper Lake.

      IMO, the state should buy it, classify the areas around the road network as Wild Forest some of these roads access the rail line and that might be useful. Then the more remote and pristine as Wilderness.

      • geogymn says:

        I agree. It just seems that the park is funded by the state but used by the whole nation, the whole world. I know I am being politically naive.

        • Steve B. says:

          While a fan of National Parks for the very idea of setting aside beautiful and scenic areas of the country, I’m also a believer that the NPS has in too many instances moved towards what Edward Abbey called “industrial tourism” and maybe put a bit too much asphalt down in too many places. Thus wouldn’t want to see any part of the Daks be made into a NP. Too much danger of lost wilderness. The NY State constitution amendment 14 would not allow it in any case and is a better protection for the land.

          • Lee Nellis says:

            If that old proposal to make the High Peaks a national park had come to pass, do you think we’d be having the conversation we’re having now about overuse? Unless it were treated differently than any other park, the NPS would have begun rebuilding trails to conservation standards as soon as it took over, and judging by all experience, would long ago have instituted a backcountry permit system that approximately protected both the land and the quality of the experience. The NPS does have overuse issues, but seldom in its backcountry (where they are corrected). Its propensity to lay down more asphalt than you or I might like to see is directly connected to its propensity to consider user safety and resource protection. A difficult balancing act indeed, and the NPS doesn’t always get it right, but there has been constant monitoring, research, and adaptive management that I at least do not see in the ADK.

    • Firefly says:

      I had the same thought. Let the feds buy it and turn it into a National Park. Different management structure, different rules & regs, different funding streams. Much better marketing and brand recognition also, so potentially could reach a whole new group of visitors who have never been here before.
      Maybe even transfer Lake Lila and Little Tupper as well.

  4. AdkMary says:

    I think a few thousand acres per house, most under conservation easements should be an acceptable solution to protect the area without state funds.

  5. nathan says:

    declare it un-buildable, no subdivides and let the taxes fold into the park at some point. Whitney doesnt need the money

    • Tim-Brunswick says:

      I love it..”doesn’t need the money”….like how the heck would you know whether or not somebody needs the money. Simply because an individual and/or corporation is “perceived” as being wealthy, that perception has nothing to do with how much debt is actually weighing upon that individual and/or corporation!

      Seriously!

  6. Mike Tomaszewski Mike T says:

    It seems that Mr. Hendrickson’s major issue is his belief that NYS’s poor protection of the previously transferred property, which he claims led to the decimation of those native brook trout.

    In 1998, I was interviewing a young man for a technician position, he was born and raised in Long Lake. He and some of his local friends were quite upset at the possibility of the LTL brook trout fishing becoming catch and release only, at least as an interim measure.
    He bragged to me, that if they could not keep those brookies, then he and his friends would release a bunch of bass into the lake.
    At the time, I passed off his comments as youthful bravado, but it did certainly come to pass. I have no doubt he acted on that threat.

    So here we are, two decades later, and the potential acquisition by NYS of the balance of the Whitney properties is in peril because the state, DEC or whomever did not prevent this tragedy. C’mon, Mr. Hendrickson, place the blame where it belongs, on a handful of vigilante fishermen. Sell the property to the state. There can be no better way to leave your mark forever in the Adirondacks.

  7. upstater says:

    I wish the state could seize such land using eminent domain in the public interest.

    Meanwhile Cuomo wants to spend almost as much money as required to purchase the Whitney tract refurbishing the Olympic ski jumps and bobsled runs. Warped priorities.

    • Tim-Brunswick says:

      Regarding what “Cuomo wants to” do….it’s an Election Year…promises, stated intentions are easy to speak/talk about….making them happen quite another….

    • Penn Hoyt says:

      Seize the land? Nice communist/socialist thing to say. Keep it private and out of the hands for the state. When is enough, enough?

  8. Adknative says:

    It will be better preserved as private land. A handful of homes, each on thousands of acres with conservation easements is probably the best protection possible at this time. There is no legal or density argument to be made against this. It would not require any state resources. The only thing missing is public access and, well, we have lots of public land to roam here.

  9. Josn Grabe says:

    If there were no objections when one family, the Whitney’s , owned 36,000 acres , what could possibly be the objection to 11 families owning the property ? Think of the enormous success of Bay Pond, the former Rockefeller property. Most of the current owners in Bay Pond are ardent conservationists and philanthropists who love the Adirondacks. This is an excellent solution which we should all hope comes to a successful conclusion.

  10. Todd Eastman says:

    Sell it to Ted Nugent for a hunting reserve/motorsports play land…

    … I mean, how bad would that be?

  11. Vanessa Banti Vanessa says:

    I’m not 100% convinced that the state being involved is the only solution, but private development is a super slippery slope. I share OPs concerns that the APA won’t land on the side of conservation when approving development. This guy’s “trout justification” has been largely debunked here and in other forums.

    Imo it’s not even a super solid investment – it’s absolutely the case that the cost of providing all of that luxury infrastructure is enormous, money that needs to be put forward by someone before anyone sells a multimillion dollar house. I share the concern that the state will be squeezed for that investment when it will not see returns in tax revenue.

    I am not even sure folks here concerned re big government even realize what they’ll get if you get 11-20 multimillionaires to own the property. Look to places like Aspen and Jackson Hole in the Tetons. Rich folks in those cities (note, the cities, not their larger states) certainly ain’t voting Republican.

    I think this is a yuuuge “careful what you wish for” situation. Development won’t necessarily bring the type of economic benefits that people opposed to state intervention want.

  12. Robert White says:

    I would like to have seen it turned into a Moose River Plains type of park. Some drive to tent sights, some hike to tent sites. Maybe a few rustic cabin rentals. Hiking trails and bicycle trails and maybe even horse back trails. Just a dream.

  13. Charlioe S says:

    Steve B says: “I’m also a believer that the NPS has in too many instances moved towards what Edward Abbey called “industrial tourism” and maybe put a bit too much asphalt down in too many places.”

    Is why local is better generally. The feds put up souvenir stands and whatever they can do to make a buck. As geogymn knows, the feds would be far worse. All’s you have to do is look at the National Parks which were sold off to the oil & gas giants under the last administration. Aint nothing that’s of real value and ‘good’ in the world sacred to the nationalistic mindset!

    • Lee Nellis says:

      Please list the names of the National Parks that were “sold” off during the last administration. Please give the date of the last time a “tourist stand” was erected in a National Park?

      • Charlie Stehlin says:

        Bears Ears National Monument in Utah and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Public lands all of them….auctioned off to corporations. Date for the last tourist stand? I’ve got better things to research Lee. It’s a good thing the Adirondacks isn’t a National Park as much as Trump salivated at the thought of getting even with states that stood up to his abnormal, impaired behavior.

        • Lee Nellis says:

          Just for the record, there are fewer commercial uses and structures in Yellowstone now than since such uses reached their peak around 1960 (and even back then a lot of things had been moved off inappropriate sites). There are newer commercial buildings, but they replace older less functional ones. The same policies apply in the other parks. It is true that visitor services are visible because of the circulation pattern, but development of any type occupies less than 2% of the park. The Adirondack Park and the national park are just different concepts, and that’s fine, but making invidious comparisons (especially comparisons that aren’t true) does nothing to improve either.

          • Charlie Stehlin says:

            That’s good to know Lee. What falsehood did I present by the way so as to stand corrected?

            • Lee Nellis says:

              That “the feds put up tourist stands wherever they can to make a buck” is both untrue and unfair to a lot of hard working and dedicated people. If the NPS was out to make a buck, there’d be a McDonald’s (and more) at Old Faithful. As it is, the concessionaries are required to meet design standards, to re-invest (deteriorated facilities were a huge issue in the ’60s), and to provide public benefits. You can (if you can find a seat) eat your own picnic on the deck of the concessionaire-operated Old Faithful Inn while you wait for the geyser to go.

              • Charlie Stehlin says:

                I should have said souvenir stands because that was what I meant. Thanks for correcting me.

      • Steve B. says:

        Not a National Park but a National Monument is the Bears Ears NM in southern Utah had its area reduced by 85% by Trump. This was mostly to open up areas to coal mining, so the comment was mostly correct in that the Fed’s sell the rights to mine. Grand Staircase NM also had its area reduced in size for similar reasons.

        • Lee Nellis says:

          It was basically about uranium, not coal, although oil and gas also played a role, and no land has been transferred. Mineral rights were leased. We’ll see what the restored boundaries look like.

          • Charlie Stehlin says:

            Steve B. says: “Not a National Park but a National Monument is the Bears Ears NM in southern Utah had its area reduced by 85% by Trump.”

            > 85% is a big leap! Imagine another four years of him! We would have lost so much! And 70 million Americans went along with him! I see trouble ahead! Whether we label it ‘monument’ or ‘park’ the land, or ecosystems, know not the designations we label them as, and my point was clearly made. We humans generalize, we adjust language so as to satisfy a selfish end. Lawyers are pro at this!

            Lee Nellis says: “It was basically about uranium, not coal, although oil and gas also played a role, and no land has been transferred.”

            Mining, drilling! No difference in my book which I hope to have in print before my demise. It is my understanding that wells were already in place in the Arctic, and in Utah; the former being the last untouched wilderness on this planet; the latter containing sensitive precious ecosystems themselves which can never be replaced…. any of them! Republicans have tried to okay drilling for their rich oil & gas pals over and again since Trump took office. They knew he was the king of puppets and they tried so hard! They flat-out just don’t care about the things that matter most. Yet all of the support they get. Yes, trouble ahead unless more of the race is adorned with enlightenment soon!

  14. Sean A. Nolan says:

    I’d rather have the state get the land, but with it’s recent history of ranger hiring that presents it’s own set of problems. If the 11 parcels were deeded with set rules about building, etc it may be the best way to go.

  15. Charlioe S says:

    “in an undeveloped Adirondack forest the ecological impact of new development extends hundreds of meters beyond the footprint of the new road, driveway, and structures. ”

    But of course! The new footprints are a centrifugal point from whence the human poison spreads. Soon as a parcel is breached it changes, if even but microscopically (at first), which should matter but we don’t even see what’s as plain as day to see, never mind the unseen which is right there underfoot!

  16. Charlioe S says:

    “An acre of newly developed land at a place like Whitney Park could have an ecological impact of up to fifteen or even more acres surrounding the house/driveway/outbuilding footprint.”

    This is as plain as day to see anywhere you look where we have put up new developments and woods are nearby. The woods change, they go from clean- looking woods to woods that have what I call the industrial look, ie.. the appearance of having been overcome by creeping vines which strangle the trees, or deprive them of water; and/ or dirty underbrush which overwhelm the forest floor. I see this everywhere except for where there’s large acreage of forest which has been preserved through conservation easements, or are state-protected. There’s a large difference between the protected wild areas and the ones that are free reign to whichever capitalists come along and decides to eliminate them because his or her wallet comes first. Indeed it is well-known by scientist that species fare much better in protected areas, in areas where man has limited use. I’m not a scientist, but have been fully aware of this difference for some time now. I see the dam\age we’re doing way before the damage takes root!

    • Lee Nellis says:

      There is data behind your observations. Eleven homes and the necessary roads will result in changes in the habitat and hydrology. It will also, unless experience almost everywhere else isn’t applicable, result in a constant barrage of violations of building envelopes and/or requests for amendments to the original plan. If the property isn’t going to be acquired by the State, then 11 homes clustered in a small portion of the site would be a reasonable way to limit the impact of development. You could double that and still have less cumulative impact than scattering development across the landscape.

      • Charlie Stehlin says:

        Not to mention invasive’s having found a vector via the roads to those new homes to ‘get in’ and permanently change that ecosystem.

  17. Charlie Stehlin says:

    “Hendrickson tells the TU reporter that he will apply for a permit for just 11 “principal buildings.” Lots of privacy there, and what could be the ecological harm of just 11 lots on 36,000 acres? It could be plenty!”

    Sure enough! It’s interesting how greed induces in the mind illusion things that are in common parlance logical.

  18. Charlie Stehlin says:

    Charlioe S is Charlie Stehlin I hereby stand and correct him.

  19. Charlie Stehlin says:

    “Hendrickson tells the TU journalist that he will change the name to Whitney Real Estate and try for a permit allowing one private, two-three-thousand-acre estate on each of 11 lakes, leaving him, he estimates, with $238 million.”

    What a shame to even suggest such! What money does to the brain! Is why most of our woes! Is why there’s so little left of the old, the virgin, the pure, authenticity……..

    • Boreas says:

      Charlie – doesn’t Whitney Real Estate have a nice woodsy ring to it? Almost sounds like if I bought one of those 11 parcels, I would be a fool not to subdivide my property and ring my lake with cabins and boat houses. But I expect that was his reason for the statement – to invoke fear. Who knows if he means it??

      • Charlie Stehlin says:

        “Who knows if he means it??”

        $238 million is a good chunk of change Boreas. You can buy a lot of books with that kind of money! Or dull, boring abstract art to hang on expensive sheetrock walls.

  20. Charlie Stehlin says:

    Tim-Brunswick says: “I love it..”doesn’t need the money”….like how the heck would you know whether or not somebody needs the money. Simply because an individual and/or corporation is “perceived” as being wealthy, that perception has nothing to do with how much debt is actually weighing upon that individual and/or corporation!”

    My father, Gerard Phillip, once said, and this has stuck with me, “If a millionaire beg’s on a street-corner he must need it, else he wouldn’t be there begging” so there is an inkling of truth to what you say. Just an inkling! You are so easy to predict Tim! That conservative nature in you. You don’t like change, and you’d sell your soul for a dollar wouldn’t ya? Right to the bitter end cement will be of more import to you than a chipmunk. Spit it out Tim. I’m right arn’t I?

  21. Paul says:

    The price is a “bit high”? That is an understatement and maybe borders on inaccurate. It’s out of this world high. They are only looking for insane buyers apparently. Nobody in their right mind would pay these prices. I don’t care where it is or what it has. Developers were looking at it they knew this wouldn’t work either.

    • Steve B. says:

      Hendickson obviously realizes there are no interested buyers for the entire 36,000 acres, so is hoping he can find 11 buyers who will pay less and have significantly less responsibility that comes with owning 36,000. When he discovers there aren’t 11 buyers, he’ll revise to 30 or so and hope for some takers.

      I could envision a Little Tupper scenario where some of the properties get sold and built on and he sells the remaining bulk to the state. Might be the best solution.

  22. Charlie Stehlin says:

    Paul! Have you seen the numbers for prices of homes and property these past some months? People are paying thousands upon thousands more than asking price to get what they want. Tens of thousands! This is a new phenomena…..to indicate how so different these times are that we are living in.

    • Paul says:

      I have, and as you saw here nobody bought this place at his first asking price because it was millions above the going price even at todays sky high prices in some segments of the market. These new prices he has on the smaller parcels are even worse deals. He may find a fool but probably not 11.

  23. ben says:

    The state should agree to buy it, but build any trails before finalizing the deal.

  24. Charlie Stehlin says:

    “The price is a “bit high……They are only looking for insane buyers apparently. Nobody in their right mind would pay these prices.”

    “Hendickson obviously realizes there are no interested buyers…”

    > Have you two seen what people are paying for property and houses these past some months? Sellers are getting much more than asking price. Buyers are offering more, not just by the thousands, but by the tens of thousands of dollars. It may have slowed some, but people have money and times are weird and when you throw in survival instinct mixed with how insecure society is due to the pandemic, all of the unrest, the violence, political division, social division, etc., etc….what is $100,000 extra for a house just to be the winner when you have that kind of money which many people do. Is why most of us don’t have a lot…because a few of us have most of the wealth!

    We are living in strange times! If I had the $238 million, and had a good shot at obtaining a big spread in the heart of the Adirondack wilderness, i’d bite! Then again, if I had the money I might offer Hendrickson more and buy it all from him, offer him a ‘sick’ price and then sell it back to the state for a nominal fee, or give it to the state, to keep it forever wild. That’s what I would do!

    “Nobody in their right mind would pay these prices.”
    > I’m not so sure about this Paul!

    • Paul says:

      Like I said above, nobody did buy it in the first round. Like you say you can’t get a better sellers market than we have now, and still no buyer. Nobody WHO DID have $238 million was interested in getting ripped off.

  25. NYS must take over the Whitney estate to prevent an ecological and economic disaster that will adversely affect Long Lake, within whose town limits you’ll find Whitney Park​, nearby town and a large part of the ADK Park. By developing land and selling it off in large parcels, the new owner, widower of Mrs. Whitney, has mistakenly assumed he can do as he chooses with land that he assumes is solely his. In actuality, his role is that of caretaker for an essential part of the wilderness park of the people of the State of New York. Should he wish to relinquish that role, his only option is to surrender it, for a fair price, to the State, not compartmentalize it and sell its various parts to the highest bidders. Not his to do; should he continue to presume to do so, he will only succeed in generating fierce opposition to his scheme.

  26. Alan Fisher says:

    Hasn’t the Whitney land always been a private estate? If New Yorker’s aren’t interested in footing the states tax bill and acquisition bill then let some rich people do it! As the middle income section of New Yorker’s slide down the income scale we can’t dig any deeper in our own pockets! It would be interesting to know how the Whitney land tract came into existence and where the money came from in the first place. Did some politician have benefit?

  27. Trevor says:

    As I understand it, Hendrickson could apply for over 800 lots on his 36,000 acre property. He stated he will have easements so that the 11 lots will never be further subdivided. Seems way beyond reasonable and more protective of the property than if he sold it to the State of New York. It seems like the perfect solution for the environment.

  28. Boreas says:

    It seems to me that taxes are the root of the desire to sell the property. Isn’t there a way NYS could come to an agreement to lower the taxes on the reserve somewhat, and still keep it in private hands with no or minimal development and limited public access? It seems like a win-win. NYS only would have to patrol any public access, and the Whitney estate can continue to manage the property as it wishes. Taxpayers pay for keeping the land wild with some limited access, but do not have to pay the exorbitant price for the land and ongoing management.

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