We have quite a bit of news to share with you out of last week’s Adirondack Park Agency (APA) meeting.
In light of a proposed battery storage system in Raquette Lake and the state’s working group studying battery fires, the APA announced it is creating an application for such infrastructure when it falls under the APA’s jurisdiction. You can read more about that, and the state’s working group update here.
My colleague Zach Matson also wrote about the agency’s approval for herbicide use in Paradox Lake to combat invasive Eurasian watermilfoil. Read more on that here.
The agency also voted last week to approve expanding the trucking hours and monthly blasts for Carver Sand and Gravel’s mine in Fulton County. You can read more about that here.
During a break in the meeting, I asked APA Executive Director Barbara Rice for an update on the agency’s headquarters and the feasibility study for moving to the village of Saranac Lake. Rice said there was nothing new. Bob Glennon, former executive director of the APA, also asked Rice if there was an update during the agency’s final public comment period of the day. Rice said a decision has not yet been made.
“We’re continuing to evaluate the Saranac Lake site, but we continue to have the Ray Brook site as an option,” she said. Rice told Glennon she hoped the feasibility study could be complete by March.
I also asked Rice for an update on the agency’s hiring of a new counsel. Chris Cooper left the post in September. Associate Counsel Sarah Reynolds has been filling in at the board meetings while the agency searches. Communications Director Keith McKeever said about 20 people have applied. They did not have an update on when a new counsel may be hired.
David Gibson, managing partner of Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve, publicly questioned the agency about another open position on its website for an executive assistant with a salary between $79,410 and $99,213. During the morning public comment period, Gibson said he thought the job duties were redundant and such funds could be used for other high-priority jobs. I asked Rice about this, and she said it is an existing position that has been vacant for almost two years. The title was changed from secretary (Rice said she felt this title was outdated), to office assistant, to executive assistant. Rice said the agency had advertised for an office assistant three times and didn’t get any applicants. She has been operating without an assistant for nearly two years, she said. The job posting has since been removed from the agency’s website. I’ve inquired whether it has been filled.
Also of note, agency board members stayed after the Thursday meeting for a training on adjudicatory hearings. The agency has not held an adjudicatory hearing, the only way it can deny a permit, in over a decade. APA Chairman John Ernst said the training was not held because an adjudicatory hearing was to be expected soon, but rather it was held to inform new board members about them. Reynolds said the training was closed to the public because trainings do not fall under the definition of meetings in Open Meetings Law.
The APA held three public hearings this month, two in person and one virtually, on a slate of state land classifications. The only member of the public to show up at the Albany public hearing was yours truly.
McKeever told APA board members that attendance for all three hearings “was less than glorious,” but said the package didn’t appear to have many controversial issues. The last time the APA had hearings on land classifications involved the Boreas Ponds, where McKeever recalled overflowing hearing rooms.
The agency is accepting written comments on the current package until Nov. 27. If you’d like to look again at the story map staff created, click here: https://storymaps.arcgis.com/
We likely won’t see this package of land classifications get adopted until sometime next year.
APA public comments:
View all APA public comment and hearing opportunities at: https://apa.ny.gov/Hearings/
- National Grid proposes to install a 43.25-foot-tall utility pole with antenna along an existing electricity distribution line within the East Hill Road transportation and utility right-of-way in the town of Parishville. Comments are due Dec. 14. To see a site plan and to comment, go to https://apa.ny.gov/Hearings/
Environmental Notice Bulletin:
Last week’s state Department of Environmental Conservation’s environmental notice bulletin had no new projects out for public comment.
I hope you all have a happy Thanksgiving. We’re grateful for your readership. Leaving you with a photo I snapped of the reflections on Chapel Pond last week along state Route 73.
Photo at top: These battery modules, supplied by the battery company BYD, show a similar-sized project to the one proposed in the hamlet of Raquette Lake. Photo courtesy of BYD.
This first appeared in Gwen’s weekly “Adirondack Report” newsletter. Click here to sign up.