Friday, March 29, 2024

Discussion time: Santanoni access

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The state Department of Environmental Conservation has found itself in a bit of a bind in an “only in the Adirondacks” variety. The state is required to provide access to Great Camp Santanoni, a historic site set back 5 miles in the woods. Unfortunately, motorized access is not currently allowed. A horse-drawn wagon has been the preferred method, only the wagon isn’t up to ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) specifications. A wagon custom built for the agency is heavy, and current wagon operator doesn’t want to risk injuring his horses. What should the state do to remedy the situation? Read our coverage here and weigh in below!

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Melissa is a journalist with experience as a reporter and editor with the Burlington Free Press, Ithaca Journal and Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. She worked as a communications specialist for the Adirondack North Country Association and is currently digital editor for Adirondack Explorer, overseeing both the Explorer's website and its community forum the Adirondack Almanack. She enjoys hiking, camping and other outdoors activities, and spending time with her husband, their twin daughters, and rescue animals -- two dogs and two cats.




12 Responses

  1. Dan Way says:

    Having personally enjoyed riding the horse-drawn wagon to the great camp I think it should be maintained as long as the horses and their driver are willing and able to continue the service. I wonder how much longer they will be available in the future however, and perhaps an electrically powered van could at some point be made available that could accommodate the handicapped, and eventually all visitors if or when horse power is no longer available.

  2. Tom Leustek says:

    Heavy wagons require more horses. Hire the Budweiser Clydesdales, or another contractor with similar horsepower. The heavy wagon raises another problem. Can the road to Newcomb Lake handle it without improvements?

  3. An Adirondack Resident says:

    This is sheer stupidity. It is carrying the “forever wild” nonsense too far. What possible harm could there be in driving a motorized vehicle to allow handicap access down a ROAD that has existed for 150 YEARS to a complex of BUILDINGS that are essentilly a historic tourist attraction/museum run by the state. If you don’t want noise, make it limited to electric vehicles. If the land classification doesn’t currently allow it, change the classification for the strip of land that contains the road. Why would any reasonable person oppose this? For example https://www.newyorkalmanack.com/2024/03/adirondack-park-classifications/

  4. Dan says:

    If they do allow vehicles, where would they park? Is the entry into the buildings up to ADA standards too?

  5. Joan Grabe says:

    Why is there even a discussion ? We have the answer since Elon Musk gave us Tesla. An electric handicapped accessible van is the answer and as fast as possible since the ADA trumps everything !

  6. Boreas says:

    DEC seems to have misplayed the situation – thinking bigger is always better. The wagon that they had built in OH is a monster. Two or three well-designed wagons that are much lighter and more maneuverable would be a better fit for the narrow road and terrain. After all, others use the trail and sharing the often narrow roadway with that behemoth and a team of horses is a recipe for a terrible accident. Although using smaller wagons would require more manpower and more horses, it is only seasonal – and it stays closer to the low-impact motorless design of the SLMP.

    If it is desired to amend the SLMP to allow electric motors for compact “taxi” type conveyances (like in an airport), I am OK with that. But I am not a fan of widespread electric motor access for everyone. I would prefer to see trained drivers operating compact vehicles – perhaps up to 5-6 passengers each. These electric “taxis” are popular in Asia given narrow streets and congestion and can be made ADA compliant.

    DEC will likely to be resistant to any options that increase payroll or equipment/insurance outlays, but it isn’t really negotiable if ADA access into remote locations is to be encouraged. If funding for reasonable, low-impact solutions cannot be obtained, Then the current ADA policies within the Park need to be re-evaluated.

  7. Randy Fredlund says:

    One cannot help but wonder if all the structures at Santanoni will be modified for ADA compliance. And will the canoes and kayaks also be required to comply?

    Seriously, it is good to provide access to everyone, regardless of mobility, but there are reasonable limits. Preventing access for the large majority of visitors to enable those with limited mobility seems unreasonable.

    Perhaps the splendid horsedrawn access can be maintained while providing a specific day per week for ADA-compliant access by other means.

  8. Srod says:

    Well the real answer is the original vender with the horses had a trailer that he built to carry wheelchairs. It was safe for his horses and worked perfectly. I was there and went in with a group that had a women in a wheelchair. The state is just being unreasonable about the wagon and what they want and that’s it. FYI anybody that has been into santanoni know it’s not really ADA friendly since it was built in the 1800s. I personally again help this woman get through doorways and over saddles and other obstacles (which I was pleased to do). Now I’ll play devils advocate where do you draw the line and stand firm on certain issues.

  9. David West says:

    When caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place; go back to square one. Redesign the wagon to be pulled by real world horses. There are plenty of space age materials like carbon fiber, titanium or aerospace grade aluminums that would much lighter than wood or steel designs. Just thinking out of the box, presuming that what they bought was built from inexpensive (i.e. heavy) materials.

  10. laurie says:

    The answer seems pretty simple: Build a smaller trailer that can be pulled by 2 horses and fits better on the narrow road. But it also seems a little hypocritical to insist motorized vehicles can’t be used to transport handicapped visitors when they’re driving vehicles back there for the restoration work. I’ve been back there three times: once there was a truck parked at the main camp and once there was contractor with a truck working on the stonework on one of the bridges. Either make everyone play by the rules, or change them.

  11. Todd says:

    All for access but when does common sense come into play. I have seen many trailheads in the adks with accessible spots and it leaves me scratching my head, if someone is going hiking do they still require a special spot. Perfect example is Boreas ponds, I believe out of the 12 or so parking spots for are reserved for accessible permit holders. The ponds are another mile down the road there is literally nothing to do once you get to that parking lot

  12. ADKDogWalker says:

    This is a problem created by the State DEC. They independently had the wagon built without ever involving the contractor in the design of the trailer so that it fit with his towing capacity. Had that consult happened, there would not be this article or these comments. Its the DEC’s arrogance in thinking they know better than everyone that led to this issue.
    By the way, at the same time that no powered vehicles can be driven into Santanoni, DEC delivers hot chocolate to the camp by gas powered snowmobile 3 times in the winter that always results in lots of gas powered snowmobile tracks all over the ski tracks back into this wilderness experience, where gas powered vehicles are not allowed, But I guess you have to have hot chocolate to really appreciate the beauty and quiet of this setting.
    Hmmm

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