Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Camp Gabriels amendment passes Senate

Camp Gabriels correctional facility.

Legislature

The state Senate passed a bill (again) that would authorize the sale of the former prison Camp Gabriels in the town of Brighton through a constitutional amendment. The prison has been closed since 2009.

Since the state is no longer using the property, it has reverted to forest preserve, which cannot be sold or leased. In order for someone else to purchase the property, a constitutional amendment is required.

Such an amendment was first proposed in 2015, passing the state Senate several times. The bill has continued to stall in the state Assembly. State Assemblyman Billy Jones, D-Chateaugay Lake, said on Tuesday that the assembly was still working on it.

Constitutional amendments are difficult to pass. They require two separately elected legislatures to pass the amendments before going to a public vote. In order for New Yorkers to see the amendment on next year’s November ballot, the state Assembly must pass it before session ends in June and both houses must pass it again next year.

“Camp Gabriels has laid dormant far too long and it’s had a negative impact on our local economy and quality of life,” said state Sen. Dan Stec, in a news release. “If we’re serious about repurposing closed prisons, passing this constitutional amendment removes this financial liability from the state and is the next step in generating the jobs, revenue and economic activity we’ve needed in Franklin County since Camp Gabriels was closed in 2009. In addition to the economic potential of a sale, this amendment ensures we continue forest preservation in the Adirondack Park for years to come. I’m hopeful that the Assembly will also take action this year, so we can get one step closer to bringing this amendment to voters and ensure this site is used to better our region.”

Herbicide news

The Adirondack Park Agency approved a seventh application to use the herbicide ProcellaCOR EC to treat invasive Eurasian watermilfoil, this time in East and West Caroga lakes in the southern Adirondacks.

After approving the permit, the board heard concerns from Lake George Waterkeeper Chris Navistky over an interim report from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture calling the active ingredient in the herbicide a kind of “forever chemical” known as PFAS. PFAS are per- and polyfluoroalkyl chemicals that are difficult to break down in the environment and have been linked to some cancers, birth and developmental defects and other health problems, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The Lake George Association is calling on Gov. Kathy Hochul to cease applications of the herbicide. The Lake George Park Commission is expected to present its application before the APA next month to use ProcellaCOR EC in two milfoil-infested bays.

Read more here.

APA public comment opportunities

View all APA public comment and hearing opportunities at: https://apa.ny.gov/Hearings/index.cfm.

  • Warren County proposes to install a new emergency services communications tower and 8-foot by 10-foot equipment building, adjacent to the Town of Bolton Highway Department garage on Finkle Road. The steel lattice tower will be 60 feet tall. Antennas will extend above the top of the tower to an overall height of 82 feet. Comments are due by June 13. To view the site plans and submit comments, go to https://apa.ny.gov/Hearings/ApaCommentPopup.cfm?ProjectNumber=2023-0160.
  • New York State Electric and Gas proposes to build a new electrical utility substation south of state Route 28 in Raquette Lake and install six new utility pole structures. The existing NYSEG substation north will be removed upon project completion. Comments are due by June 13. To view the site plans and submit comments, go to https://apa.ny.gov/Hearings/ApaCommentPopup.cfm?ProjectNumber=2024-0052.

DEC public comment opportunities

View all the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s weekly environmental notice bulletin projects.

  • The Franklin County Legislature has determined that a proposed Multi-Use Recreational Trail System may have a significant adverse impact on the environment and a Draft Environmental Impact Statement must be prepared. The Draft Scope is available at https://www.franklincountyny.gov/business/multi_use_trails_draft_scoping_documents.php and at the following address 443 Electronics Parkway Liverpool, NY 13088. The project is an approximately 500-mile county-wide system of trails and roads for recreational use by off road vehicle (ORV), foot, bicycle, horseback, dog sled, ski, and other outdoor activities. The trail system will be located on various county-owned lands, DEC-owned lands, APA-owned land, privately owned parcels and county, town, and New York State Department of Transportation roadways within Franklin County. Franklin County will secure all easements for trail use on lands they do not own. Local Laws will be passed to allow for ORV use within local rights-of-way, as needed. Additionally, the proposed trail network will connect to multi-use trail networks in St. Lawrence and Clinton Counties, creating a regional trail network. The county legislature is accepting public comments on the draft scoping document until 1 p.m. on June 14. Written comments may be mailed to the Franklin County Office of Economic Development & Tourism, 355 West Main Street, Suite 428, Malone, NY 12953, Attention:  Bobbie Keenan. Comments may also be e-mailed to Exploreadirondackfrontier@franklincountyny.gov. Please insert “Proposed Multi-Use Recreational Trail System” in the Subject line of the message. Please include your name and mailing address with your submission.
  • The DEC proposes to create five new primitive tent sites on Follensby Clear Pond in the Saranac Lakes Wild Forest in the town of Santa Clara and close five existing tent sites. This project requires the removal of 18 trees between 1- and 3-inches diameter at breast height (DBH), and 11 trees over 4 inches DBH. Comments are due by June 5. To view the work plans and submit comments, go to https://dec.ny.gov/news/environmental-notice-bulletin/2024-05-22/public-notice/town-of-santa-clara-follens-by-clear-pond-tent-site-relocation
Gothics Mountain

One of my favorite photos I took hiking Gothics Mountain.

PS

I hope you are all enjoying your weekends and getting out into the park. Our staff made a list of some of our favorite hikes, bikes, paddles, camping trips and more. Sharing with you here. 

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.




3 Responses

  1. An Adirondack Resident says:

    Camp Gabriels should have been repurposed by whatever means, eithr as a state facility or something else, as soon as it was apparent that it would no longer be neded as a prison. If a constitutional amendment was needed, it should have been proposed and promoited15 years ago. Now whoever gets it will have to do a lot of work that would not have been necessary. This is a prime example of state mismanagement.

  2. David Gibson says:

    Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve has issued a memo of support for the Camp Gabriels amendment to the State Legislature:

    This proposed amendment of Article 14, Section 1 of the New York State Constitution would authorize the sale of up to 92 acres of Forest Preserve land occupied by 48 buildings of the former Camp Gabriels Correctional prison in the Adirondack Park Town of Brighton, with proceeds of the sale dedicated to the Forest Preserve Expansion Fund. The Legislature would have to approve of the sale and transfer of the property to private parties.

    Critically, this proposed resolution to amend Article XIV would also set aside rights to create a new Water District for the Town of Brighton to provide potable water for residents whose wells are polluted by road salt.

    As an advocate for the Forest Preserve, Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve must be persuaded that any exception to the “forever kept as wild forest” mandate of Article 14 results in a significant net benefit to the Forest Preserve. The organization weighs whether an amendment to Article 14 is narrowly defined, specific, limited in scope and provides public services or serves a public need, as opposed to serving a mostly private interest, which cannot be provided in ways other than through an amendment.

    Since the prison closed, we have insisted that any constitutional amendment here include more transparent public and community benefits. The inclusion of rights to create a new water district for the community of Brighton satisfies our criteria and persuades us to support the resolution.

    A long-awaited resolution of this matter is very important to achieve for all Adirondack Park stakeholders and, particularly, for the residents of Brighton. Adirondack Wild wishes to lend our support for the amendment and urges its passage in both the Senate and Assembly this year.

    David Gibson, Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve

    • Paul says:

      New water district? That is one I haven’t heard yet?

      These buildings are probably loaded with asbestos and lead, and god knows what else? Just razing them legally will probably cost a fortune? I hope they can do something.

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