Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Digging into the 1996 Bond Act

bond act boat launch

Our September/ October issue will be hitting mailboxes soon (click here to subscribe to our print and/or digital edition). In it is a story I’ve been working on since the beginning of the year, a look-back at the last environmental bond act New Yorkers passed, the Clean Air/Clean Water 1996 Bond Act.


The $1.75 billion in borrowing went to environmental (and some not-so environmental) projects across the state. Notable for the Adirondacks, the bond act helped fund some of the most notable forest preserve purchases and Adirondack Park easements. It also helped fund the closure of all landfills in the Adirondack Park, something I wrote about in the magazine last year that you can read here.

(Editor’s note: As part of the landfill story, we asked readers to share their memories and photos of going to the local dump to watch bears in this Facebook post. Join in the conversation here.)

The piece also includes a look at my search for records and how I could not find a full accounting of where the money went. Each state agency responsible for distributing this money kept track of it in different ways. Some have even purged their records from back that far. I hope it will be a helpful read as voters take to the polls in November with a $4.2 billion environmental bond act on the table.

In sum, it was a complicated one to report!

Photo: The boat launch at Moffitt Beach Campground on July 21, 2022 in Lake Pleasant. The campground received funding for this boat launch in the Clean Air/Clean Water 1996 Environmental Bond Act. Photo by Gwendolyn Craig

Editor’s note: This first appeared in Gwen’s weekly “Adirondack Report” newsletter. Click here to sign up.

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Gwen is the environmental policy reporter for Adirondack Explorer.




One Response

  1. John says:

    I can tell you that at least $65 million of the 1996 Environmental Bond Act monies went to renovating what was then called Rich Stadium in Orchard Park. In 1996 Ralph Wilson was threatening to move the Buffalo Bills out of New York State if he didn’t get the stadium upgrades from the County and the State. As the Bills are the only NFL team that actually plays in New York State, George Pataki did not want to see them move and cut a deal with Mr. Wilson.

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