Posts Tagged ‘Adirondack Northway – I-87’

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Big Blowdown of 1950

The Adirondacks is prone to powerful windstorms, isolated tornadoes, and occasional hurricanes, derechos, and microbursts. Perhaps the second most destructive of these in modern Adirondack history (next to the 1998 Ice Storm) occurred in November, 1950.

The Big Blowdown brought heavy rains and winds in excess of 100 mph. In a single day – November 25th – more than 800,000 acres of timber was heavily damaged. The storm caused a complete shutdown of the roads and trails across large swaths of the park, a historic suspension of the State Constitution, a temporary glut in the spruce market, and a political impact that continues to this day. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Dysfunction Junction: What’s Your Function?

Dysfunction Junction INtersection Routes 73 and 9They call it “Crazy Corners” or “Spaghetti Junction” or “Dysfunction Junction.”

For years I’ve driven through the unique, bizarre intersection at Routes 9 and 73 in New Russia, a hamlet of Elizabethtown. For years, I’ve wondered: who on earth designed this crazy confluence, and why? » Continue Reading.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

State Funded Schroon Lake Hotel Plans Revealed

Plans are afoot for a large hotel on the shores of Schroon Lake in Essex County, according to the project’s manager Joel J. Friedman of Friedman Realty in Schroon Lake. “Over the next few months we will be refining the project,” Friedman told the Almanack via e-mail, “a final version of the exterior and landscape plan is a month or two away.” The hotel, which is to be located on Route 9 a half-mile south of Schroon Lake Village, is expected to include approximately 81 rooms and suites, meeting rooms, an indoor pool and fitness center. The project’s developers hope to begin construction this spring or summer but, Friedman said, “In this economy that may or may not happen; we will know more in one to two months.”

The entity that hopes to build the hotel, Schroon Revitalization Group, LLC- Schroon Lake Hospitality, was awarded $975,000 in October 2009 from the Upstate Regional Blueprint Fund designed to revitalize New York’s Upstate economy. The $120 million Fund, announced by Governor David Paterson in May 2009, “supports projects that help provide a framework for future growth in regions with stymied development,” according to a press release from the Governor’s office. “This first round of funding finances business investment, infrastructure upgrades and downtown redevelopment.”

Over the past several decades, in part due to the construction of the Adirondack Northway (I-87) which diverted north-south traffic from Route 9, Schroon Lake has lost most of it’s tourist accommodations. Friedman however, cites “the dramatic increase in the value of waterfront and real estate properties,” as the root cause, “further exacerbated by a lack of investment into the existing motel stock by some folks over the past few decades.”

“In a small community like Schroon Lake,” Friedman told the Almanack, “it is the churn of tourist dollars that is the key to keeping these [main street Schroon Lake Village] businesses successful.” “It is projected that this hotel will provide almost 20,000 tourist nights,” he added, “that alone will have a significant impact to Schroon’s and our neighboring communities’ economies.”

A number of studies since the 1970s have argued for the need for improved lodging facilities in Schroon Lake including the Town of Schroon’s 1977 Comprehensive Plan (produced by Environmental Consulting Groups, Inc.) and an Adirondack Park Agency (APA) study prepared for the town that same year. The APA study concluded that the town should “Make provisions for the continued growth of commercial recreation by such means as taking steps to extend the recreational season by providing other activities and encouraging a major chain to locate a motel in Schroon.”

Local critics of the plan have noted that Schroon Revitalization Group, LLC- Schroon Lake Hospitality is not listed in the NYS Division of Corporations index of corporations and business entities. This is not uncommon for new projects according to Friedman who said that the LLC’s name was filed in December and it’s Articles of Incorporation were filed early this year. The principles of the corporation are David & Jane Kaufman and Roger & Joel Friedman.

Photo: Proposed Schroon Lake Hotel, photo provided by developers.


Saturday, January 9, 2010

APA To Meet: Keenan Reservoir, Lewis Cell Tower, Westport

The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) will meet on Thursday, January 14, 2010 at APA Headquarters in Ray Brook, NY. Highlights of the meeting will include reconstruction of the Keenan Reservoir spillway in Laurene, an application to build a cell tower between exits 31 and 32 of Interstate 87 (Adirondack Northway) in the Town of Lewis, and additions and revisions of the Town of Westport’s local land use program. The one day meeting will be webcast live on the Agency’s website at http://www.apa.state.ny.us. Materials for the meeting can be found at http://www.apa.state.ny.us/Mailing/2010/01/index.htm.

Here is the text of the agency’s meeting announcement:

The Full Agency will convene on Thursday morning at 9:00 with Executive Director Terry Martino’s report highlighting monthly activity. Mrs. Martino will also introduce Elizabeth Phillips, Esq, who was hired in December 2009 as a Senior Attorney in the Legal Division.

At 9:15 a.m., the Regulatory Programs Committee will consider a shoreline structure setback variance request from the City of Glens Falls. The City proposes to reconstruct the Keenan Reservoir spillway which is located off Beartown Road in the Town of Lake Luzerne, Warren County. The reservoir is a component of the City’s water supply source and in need of repair.

The Committee will also deliberate a T-Mobile Northeast, LLC application for construction of a telecommunication tower. The tower would be located west of Interstate 87 (Adirondack Northway) between exits 31 and 32 in the Town of Lewis, Essex County. Project design includes tower space for an additional telecommunications carrier.

The committee meeting will conclude with a presentation highlighting telecommunication projects approved by the Agency in 2009.

At 11:15, the Local Government Committee will convene to review proposed additions and revisions put forth by the Town of Westport related to their approved local land use program. The town has administered an approved program since 1986. These proposals represent a multi-year effort by the Town Board, Planning Board and Zoning Office to correct deficiencies and provide greater opportunities for residents and businesses. Agency planning staff assisted the town in preparing the amendments.

At 1:00, the Economic Affairs, Park Policy and Planning Committees will meet jointly for two presentations. The committees will be briefed by Northern Forest Center Executive Director Rob Riley and Program Manager Joe Short regarding the status of the Sustainable Economy Initiative (SEI) and recently authorized Northern Border Commission.

Tug Hill Commission Executive Director John Bartow will then discuss the Tug Hill Resident and Landowner Survey. This survey was designed to gather input from citizens related to quality of life in the Tug Hill region and attitudes towards future land use decisions. It was a collective effort between Tug Hill Commission professional staff and The Center for Community Studies at Jefferson Community College.

At 2:30, Town of Moriah Supervisor Tom Scozzafava will be the guest speaker for the Community Spotlight presentation. Supervisor Scozzafava will overview his community and highlight important community issues facing this Essex County town.

At 3:00, the State Land Committee will receive an update on revisions to the Interagency Guidelines for Invasive Species Management on State Land. The Committee will also hear an informational presentation on the Jessup River Wild Forest Unit Management Plan Amendment.

At 4:15, the Full Agency will convene to take action as necessary and conclude the meeting with committee reports, public and member comment.

The next Agency meeting is February 11-12, 2009, at the Adirondack Park Agency Headquarters.

March Agency Meeting: March 11-12 2010 at the Adirondack Park Agency Headquarters.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

APA To Consider New Cell Towers, Invasives, Hamlets

The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) will meet on Thursday, October 8 and Friday, October 9 at APA Headquarters in Ray Brook, NY. The agency will consider two more towers along the Northway, one near the Lincoln Pond Rest Area in Elizabethtown and the other near Exit 30 in North Hudson. The October meeting will be webcast live on the agency’s homepage; meeting materials are available online. Here is the meeting agenda as provided by the APA: » Continue Reading.


Monday, July 27, 2009

Northway Checkpoint Still Active, Technically

It’s been two and a half months since a Border Patrol checkpoint was last staffed on the Adirondack Northway, but the federal agency says the North Hudson post is still in operation, though more sporadically than after it was established in 2002.

The checkpoint is temporarily down because the New York State Department of Transportation is doing roadwork in the section of I-87 southbound between Exits 30 and 29, says David Matzel, public information officer for the United States Border Patrol sector in Swanton, Vermont, which covers five northern New York counties.

The post was last manned on May 11, Matzel says. Its infrequent use of late has nothing to do with budgeting, he says. Authorities decide to staff it “based on intelligence,” he explains. The intelligence pertains “only to immigration and terrorist activity. . . . Anything else we get past immigration is just a factor of someone trying to run drugs through there at the wrong time.”

The checkpoint has netted a lot of marijuana and ecstasy in its lifetime. The questioning stop was instituted in reaction to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Four motorists were killed when a tractor trailer rammed into a line of cars there in 2004. Since then, officials have added rumble strips and other safety measures designed to better warn motorists to stop.


Monday, July 6, 2009

Adirondack Park Agency July Meeting Agenda

The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) will hold its regularly scheduled monthly meeting on Thursday, July 9 and Friday July 10 at APA Headquarters in Ray Brook, NY. The July meeting will be webcast live on the Agency’s homepage. The Full Agency will convene on Thursday morning at 9:00 for the Acting Executive Director’s monthly report. Here is the full APA agenda:

At 9:15 a.m., the Regulatory Programs Committee will consider a proposal from the Franklin County Industrial Development Agency and Graymont Materials (NY) Inc. to undertake a two-lot subdivision and relocate Graymont’s existing ready-mix concrete batch plant from the Village of Tupper Lake to an existing 135+/- acre business park located on the westerly side of Pitchfork Pond Road in the Town of Tupper Lake, Franklin County.

The new facility would be located on a 5.07+/- lot and include a ready-mix concrete batch plant, a boiler room, an office/lab, a stockpile area of crushed stone and sand, and parking areas. A self contained/recycling truck washout pit which would contain all material washed off/out of the trucks would also be located on project site.

Key issues include revisions to business park covenants, potential impacts to adjoining land uses, visual impacts and local approvals.

Next the committee will consider a second permit renewal for a single- family dwelling and temporary two-lot subdivision into sites in the town of Webb, Herkimer County.

The committee will also determine approvability for a Verizon proposed 74-foot telecommunications tower and 10-foot lightning rod for an overall height of 84-feet. The proposed tower would be installed east of the Northway in the Town of North Hudson, Essex County adjacent to the northbound High Peaks Rest Stop, which is located between exits 29 and 30, on Interstate 87.

Key issues include Agency Towers Policy compliance and co-location potential.

At 11:30, the Legal Affairs Committee will receive an update on the Agency’s proposed legislation involving affordable housing incentives, permit reforms and community planning funds. Staff will also provide a status update on current regulatory revision.

At 1:00, the Park Policy and Planning Committee will consider a Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement and authorization for staff to conduct a public hearing for proposed map amendments to the Official Adirondack Park Land Use and Development Plan. The Town of Inlet, Hamilton County is requesting the reclassification of approximately 1,913 acres of private land. The proposals are located in four areas throughout the town and would result in the reclassification of:

• Low Intensity Use to Moderate Intensity Use; 203.4+/- acres • Low Intensity Use to Moderate Intensity Use; 23.6+/- acres • Rural Use to Moderate Intensity Use; 1043.7+/- acres • Low Intensity Use to Moderate Intensity Use; 642.6+/- ac

Following this discussion the committee will hear a presentation from Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages President Brain Towers and Jim Martin from the LA Group on the recently completed Adirondack Park Regional Assessment Project. The discussion will focus on the community infrastructure inventory that was conducted as part of the regional assessment.

At 2:30, the Administration Committee will hear a final reading and possibly adopt revisions to the Agency’s Policy & Guidance System. In addition, Acting Executive Director James Connolly will inform the committee about ongoing landscaping efforts at the APA facility in Ray Brook.

At 3:30, the Enforcement Committee will come to order for administrative enforcement proceedings related to alleged permit violations resulting from non compliant signage on commercial businesses in the Town of Ticonderoga, Essex County and an alleged wetland fill/disturbance violation on a private property in the Town of Hopkinton, St Lawrence County.

On Friday morning at 9:00, the Interpretive Programs Committee will convene for a presentation on regional events planned for the Quadricentennial celebration and events planned for September 19th at the Crown Point Historic Site.

The Full Agency will convene at 10:00 to take action as necessary and conclude the meeting with committee reports, public and member comment.

Meeting materials are available for download from the Agency’s website at: http://www.apa.state.ny.us/Mailing/0907/index.htm

The next Agency meeting is August 13-14, 2009 at the Adirondack Park Agency Headquarters.

September Agency Meeting September 10-11, 2009, Adirondack Park Agency Headquarters.


Saturday, June 6, 2009

80-House Brandreth Park Project on Adirondack Park Agency Agenda

The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) will hold its regularly scheduled monthly meeting on Thursday, June 11 and Friday June 12 at APA Headquarters in Ray Brook. The June meeting will be webcast live via a link on the Agency’s homepage at www.apa.state.ny.us. Here is the meeting agenda:

The Full Agency will convene on Thursday morning at 9:00 for the Acting Executive Director’s monthly report.

At 9:15 a.m., the Regulatory Programs Committee will consider Brandreth Park Association’s large scale residential development project proposed for an 8,670 acre tract of land surrounding Brandreth Lake in the Town of Long Lake, Hamilton County. The applicant requests authorization, over a 100 year period, for new residential sites to accommodate up to 80 single family dwellings, a caretaker’s residence, a “gathering house”, five commonly owned guesthouses and up to four boathouses on portions of the tract. The creation of building sites is considered a subdivision under the APA Act.

At this time the committee will consider just the first proposed section which includes the subdivision into sites for construction of up to 44 single family dwellings and one or more of five planned guesthouses. Building footprints for these structures will not exceed 2,500 square feet or 35 feet in height.

Any future proposed land use and development will require separate Agency approval. All proposed development will be clustered within a 442 acre development area at the northern end of Brandreth Lake. No new land use or development is planned for the remaining 8,230 acres (95%) which will remain as open space forestland.

Next the committee will consider a second permit renewal for a convenience store, deli and gas station in the town of Greig, Lewis County.

Following this discussion the committee will consider approval for two general permit applications, one for structural stabilization of shorelines as watershed management projects or involving wetlands and a second for residential subdivisions involving regulated wetlands.

The committee meeting will conclude with a staff presentation summarizing cellular projects constructed along the Adirondack Northway.

At 11:30, the State Land Committee will consider a proposed classification and reclassification of certain State lands under the jurisdiction of the NYS Department of Transportation to State Administration.

At 1:00, the Park Policy and Planning Committee will hear a presentation on the Agency’s map amendment process. Planning staff will explain the criteria used in approving map amendment requests, review Ticonderoga’s recent amendment which resulted in expansion to their Hamlet area and provide an example of a possible future Hamlet expansion in the Town of Westport, Essex County.

At 1:45, planning staff will demonstrate to the Local Government Services Committee a land use mapping tool developed internally to assist local governments with community planning and zoning efforts. This application takes advantage of a commonly used digital file format and will allow local communities to tap into the Agency’s computer mapping capabilities without incurring extensive software and training costs.

At 2:15, the “Community Spotlight” segment will feature Town of Bellmont Supervisor Bruce Russell. Supervisor Russell will provide an overview of his community and highlight important issues facing this northern Franklin County town.

At 3:00, the Enforcement Committee will come to order for an administrative enforcement proceeding related to alleged violations resulting from the operation of a junkyard without an Agency permit. These violations are alleged to have occurred along State Route 73 in the Town of Keene, Essex County.
On Friday morning at 9:00, the Economic Affairs Committee will convene for a follow-up to its April 2009 presentation on three successful manufacturing businesses in Essex County. This month’s focus is on small business development assistance that is available through the Adirondack Economic Development Corporation (AEDC) and the North Country Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Plattsburgh State. The committee will be briefed by Mike Conway, Adirondack Economic Development Corporation Executive Director, and Rick Leibowitz, Regional Director for the Small Business Development Centeron on small business assistance programs.

At 10:00, the Legal Affairs Committee will receive an update on the Agency’s proposed legislation involving affordable housing incentives, permit reforms and community planning funds. Staff will also provide a status update on current regulatory revision.

At 10:30, the Administration Committee will review proposed revisions to the Agency’s Policy & Guidance System.

The Full Agency will convene at 11:00 to take actions as necessary and conclude the meeting with committee reports, public and member comment.

Meeting materials are available for download from the Agency’s website at: http://www.apa.state.ny.us/Mailing/0906/index.htm

The next Agency meeting is July 9-10, 2009 at the Adirondack Park Agency Headquarters.

August Agency Meeting August 13-14, 2009, Adirondack Park Agency Headquarters.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Welcome to the Adverondacks

At milepost 105 north of exit fourteen on the New Jersey Turnpike there is a word on a billboard that caught our attention last week. Actually it isn’t even a word—more like a head-on collision of syllables—set in a familiar blue font, against a milk chocolate background. The billboard itself was practically buried in the visual chaos of overpasses, smokestacks, tank farms, power lines, and inbound commercial jets that identifies that region of the Garden State, but just conspicuous enough for a carload of homing Adirondackers.

The word on the billboard, “SNACKORONDACKS” (full context “Go Camping in the SNACKORONDACKS”) is a recent installment of an advertising campaign for Snickers candy bars. The gist of the campaign is to fuse/graft/smash together unrelated words or phrases into something suitable for a linguistic freak show. The result: grotesque, fascinating, and as thoroughly targeted as musk bait in a wire snare. Use of the name Adirondack for a national advertising campaign (a blog comment from someone in the Pacific Northwest suggested it would be easier for her to go camping in the “SNACKCADES”) seems somewhat haphazard until you consider that Candy Baron Forrest Mars, Jr., son of the man credited with introducing malt nougat to the candy bar, keeps a family place near Ticonderoga. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Discussion: An Adirondack Green New Deal

At the end of last month’s global warming conference a few participants were standing around talking philosophically about how to position the Adirondacks as a leader in the future green economy.

One local planner saw abandoned DOT lots along the Northway becoming park n’ rides, linked to local communities by bike and hiking paths, others envisioned them as green centers that connected mass transport, local information centers, and charging stations for locally produced energy. Someone else suggested painting a green stripe across every roadway that enters the Adirondacks – an unambiguous sign that you are entering a region where economics and the environment live hand and hand. Redraw the Blue Line as a Green Line.

SUNY Albany History Professor Lawrence S. Wittner, in a recent article at the History News Network, suggested that cuts in programs for education and healthcare proposed by Governor Patterson is the wrong way to climb out of our current economic recession. He pointed to the the inequities Adirondackers, and all New Yorkers, face:

The major reason the New York State budget is out of balance today—and has been intermittently for decades now—is that, for the last thirty years, the state has been cutting the tax rate for the top income New Yorkers. Specifically, driven by the desire to create a “business-friendly environment” in New York State, successive governors have succeeded in gradually lowering the tax rate for people in the top income bracket from 15.38 percent to 6.85 percent.

Thus, today, despite its liberal image, New York has a rather flat income tax rate, ranging from a low of 4 percent to a high of 6.85 percent… One of the state’s highly-respected think tanks, the Fiscal Policy Institute, estimates that a very small, temporary increase in the tax rates on the highest-income New Yorkers could yield as much as $7 billion per year—more than enough to cover the state’s projected fiscal woes.

Witner argues nothing less then that “government spending—and particularly spending that is funded by taxes on the wealthy—can also help to jump start the economy.” Witner connects his plan with the New Deal plans of FDR, which began with New York:

During the first years of the Great Depression, when Franklin Roosevelt served as governor, New York was one of the incubators of the New Deal’s Keynesian approach. A staunch backer of unemployment insurance, Roosevelt became the first governor in the nation to demand state aid for relief. Moreover, New York’s Temporary Emergency Relief Administration served as the first state relief agency in the country. Governor Roosevelt was also a keen advocate of expanding New York State’s investment in public power programs and of having the state buy up abandoned farms for the purpose of reforestation. In New York City, too, the municipal government reacted to the Great Depression by investing heavily in upgrading the city’s infrastructure. It established new (and free) city colleges like Brooklyn College (in 1930) and Queens College (in 1937), and opened its first city-owned subway line (in 1932).

So folks, if we need a New Deal, and we want it to be a Green New Deal led by our region – what proposals do you have?

What projects, small and large, can we do locally and regionally to advance a Green New Deal?


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Adirondack Cell Towers Approval Details

Local news is reporting that construction has begun on four new new cell towers: Warrensburg, North Hudson, Schroon Falls and Lewis. They are expected to be working by the end of the year.

The following list is from a document called “Adirondack Park Agency Status Update on Cellular Projects in the Adirondack Park.” It includes the status of cellular carrier projects approved, currently under review, or projects submitted but deemed incomplete. It does not include other related tower projects such as TV, radio, or emergency services systems. It does however include a historic look at towers and concludes the surprising fact that 59 new cellular carrier permits have been issued since 1973 – missing of course is any indication of permits denied, which I suspect is none or close to none.

Here are the details:

The Agency Board approved the Independent Towers LLC/RCC Atlantic Inc application (Town of Lewis, Essex County). This project was the first cell tower application submitted specifically designed to accommodate multiple cellular carriers. AT&T was a co-applicant and will provide service from this site. There is room for three additional carriers. The tower will provide Northway coverage south and north of exit 32.

The Agency Board will consider approval for Verizon’s proposed tower in the Town of Chesterfield, Essex County at its September 11-12 meeting. This project is located near Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain between exits 32 and 33.

Staff is reviewing the fabrication designs for the Schroon Falls (Town of Schroon, north of exit 28) Verizon tower. This tower will be a simulated Pine tree.

Staff is seeking additional information for a second Verizon tower submitted in the Town of Lewis, Essex County.

Agency staff monitored visual analysis for the Verizon cellular application proposed for the Town of Keene, Essex County. Visual analysis was also conducted for a site in Keene Valley. Staff is awaiting submission of the visual analysis for the Keene site and an application for the Keene Valley site.

Verizon’s application submitted in the Town of Wells, Hamilton County remains incomplete.

Staff is reviewing a permit amendment to upgrade an antenna on a preexisting tower in the Town of Moriah, Essex County.

The Agency approved a general permit application from T Mobile (AT&T) to co-locate cellular panel antennas on a 145-foot tall existing tower. The project is located in the Town of Fine, St. Lawrence County.

Cellular carrier activity since January 1, 2008:

4 cellular carrier permits approved for new towers

2 cellular carrier general permits approved for co-location

3 cellular carrier application for new towers incomplete

1 cellular carrier application for upgrades to an existing tower remains incomplete

1 cellular carrier application currently being reviewed for Board consideration

1 cellular carrier permit amendment being reviewed

0 cellular carrier applications submitted for temporary towers for I-87

Cellular carrier activity May 1973 through present:

59 new cellular carrier permits approved authorizing 65 activities:

11 new free standing towers

13 tower and/or antenna replacements

21 co-locations on free standing existing towers

6 co-locations on existing buildings

6 co-locations on water tanks

3 co-locations on existing fire towers

2 co-locations on Olympic ski jump

2 co-location on smokestack

1 temporary tower and a second renewal (Town of Mayfield, Fulton County)

20 cellular carrier permit amendments issued authorizing 21 activities:

10 tower and/or antenna replacements

7 co-locations on free standing existing towers 2 co-location on fire tower

1 co-location on existing building

1 co-location on Olympic ski jump


Thursday, August 14, 2008

I-87 Adirondack Northway Cell Towers Update

The Glens Falls Post Star is reporting on recent permits approved for cell towers along the Northway (I-87):

The applications recently approved include several Verizon permits in Warrensburg, Chestertown, North Hudson and Schroon Lake. Verizon plans eventually to operate 18 towers near the Northway, from Lake George all the way to Peru, just south of Plattsburgh.

Earlier this month, the Park Agency approved a permit to construct a 100-foot tower on Route 9 in Lewis that is expected to cover three miles north and south of the site along the Northway, near Exit 32.

In September, the Park Agency will decide on another Verizon application for a permit in Chesterfield, near Keeseville at Northway Exit 34.

One of the biggest issues with the towers has always been the destruction of the Adirondack viewshed, which is crucial to the tourism industry. The APA’s towers policy is being credited by John Sheehan of the Adirondack Council for the swift and appropriate placement of new towers:

The Lewis tower will not interrupt the park scenery for passersby, as it will be hidden from view by a hill and trees, [Adirondack Park Agency Spokesman Keith McKeever] said.

Advocates for environmental preservation, who previously expressed concern over the development of cell phone towers in the region, are pleased with the recent wave of applications and approvals, including the one in Lewis.

“They carefully picked a site that was going to be away from public view and made it large enough to carry more than one company,” said The Adirondack Council’s director of communications, John Sheehan. “That’s exactly the way we were hoping they would carry out the communication expansion in the park.”

Sheehan credited the Park Agency for making its requirements for tower development clear to phone companies. The agency requires that towers be built on sites that aren’t highly visible from roadways and other public areas.

If it’s true, it will be another example of private-public cooperation in protecting the park’s natural resources, but as Adirodnack Almanack predicted over a year ago, there will still be plenty of areas that will not be reached by cell service:

Some gaps in reception, or dead zones, will still exist, [APA Spokesman McKeever] said. “There’s going to be some dead zones when you’re going through a mountainous region like this.”

McKeever recommended people use emergency boxes located every two miles on the Northway if they have an emergency in a dead zone.

Neither of the two people killed on the Northway during severe weather last year would have been helped by a call box, and it’s yet to be seen if the new towers are going to cover the areas where they died.

The cell phone issue was named #1 on Adirondack Almanack’s Top Stories of 2007.


Tuesday, May 6, 2008

John Warren: Adirondack Railroads’ Time Has Come

The Adirondack Journal reported this week that Warren County supervisors “derailed” (pun apparently intended) a local tourist railroad development project by voting to pay a consultant for the design of two of the railroads train stations at Hadley and Thurman. Looking around the net, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what is going on, but it seems as though the county may be dragging its feet on the plan to improve the long neglected Delaware and Hudson RR tracks between Corinth in Saratoga County and North Creek, near the Gore Mountain Ski Area.

NY State Transportation Commissioner Astrid Glynn definitely is, when he announced $20 million in rail funding last week to go toward 15 projects statewide, extending the Adirondack Scenic Railroad from Saranac Lake to Tupper Lake was not on the list. In December 2006, former George Pataki had promised $5 million to make the 26 miles of track between the two villages passable. » Continue Reading.


Monday, October 29, 2007

Is Another Adirondack Fire Disaster On The Way?

Next year marks the 100th anniversary of one of the most terrible Adirondack years on record. Forest fires ravaged the region in 1908 and led to a widespread system of fire detection. The recent California fires point up the danger Adirondackers face as global warming tends the region to increasing episodes of drought such as that that occurred this fall and contributed to the historically low levels at the Hinckley Reservoir.

According to the APA:

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, fires raged out of control in the many of New York State’s vast wooded areas. The years 1903 and 1908 were particularly disastrous, and because of public outcry for protection from the devastation, the state began a rigorous fire and prevention and control program, including the building of fire towers. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, March 10, 2007

Adirondack Northway Cell Phone Controversy

When two men died on the Northway in late January and early February, right-wingers, downstaters, and anti-environmentalists offensively used their deaths to go on the attack. Never mind these unfortunate folks were traveling through isolated mountain passes in what was certainly the worst weather of the season, and in one case, the worst ice storm in at least several years – the wing-nuts raised their collective cane in disgust over those of us who they said cared more about the environment than people.

“But it should not have come to this. This could have been prevented,” our State Senator Betty Little (R-Queensbury) said. She failed to mention that she was one of those at the top of the list who could have prevented it. Little and our Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward (R-Willsboro) failed to act decisively to force cell-phone companies to provide adequate cell-coverage, and more importantly, they spent more than four years pretending that having a cell phone on the Northway was a substitute for common sense in considering driving conditions before you set out to cross the largest wilderness in the east.

“You mean we can talk to people on the moon, but we can’t talk to people on Interstate 87?” Abraham Isaac, a Jewish community activist said. His Voz Iz Neias blog has become a center for New York City / New Jersey folks who just can’t seem to understand that the world is not made of high-rises, strip-malls, and unlimited cell service. Maybe they’ve spent too much time talking to people on the moon.

Assemblyman an opportunist Roy McDonald met with people at, get this, the Wilton Mall food court to call the lack of cell service “geographic discrimination” and to say that “people’s live should come first” – “There’s a substantial part and areas throughout New York that don’t have service, and I don’t want the upstate area to turn into a third world country,” he said. Gee Mr. McDonald, ever meet any of the rural poor in our area? Ever consider that South Korea has better broadband penetration than the Untied States?

Senator Martin J. Golden (R-Brooklyn) said “Shame on those that would get in the way of human life, to lose a life for something as simple as not having a cell phone tower … is very telling about priorities.” Now that’s someone with priorities. Forget war, lack of health care or living wages, failure to fund education to such an extent that the courts had to force the state to act, a state legislature that is a laughing stock of the nation and about as un-democratic as it gets – no, the real priorities are cell service. Now that’s telling about priorities, namely Mr. Golden’s re-election prospects.

The Adirondack Daily Enterprise said we were being kept in a “dark ages” by “absolute lunacy.” Blog writer Shlomah Shamos exclaimed the following outright lie “The untimely deaths of two beloved family men are on the conscience of the Adirondack Park Agency, who has been ignoring this issue and blocking all efforts” and asked “how many people have to die due to the lack of cell service on the Northway?” We’ll guess that many more will die on the Northway with cell service or without and Shlomah probably won’t give a single sentence to their deaths.

A guy from Jersey calling himself ironically, Right, Wing Nut! made the following assumptions, apparently out of ignorance of the facts (surprise, surprise):

LET ’em die – just don’t mess with our perfect view. That’s the message from New York environmentalists who’ve prevented the construction of cell-phone towers along Interstate 87 in the Adirondacks.

They like to call themselves “progressives”, but the enviorn”mental”ists are hell-bent on sending society careening backwards. Cutting off humanity from help so that a view may be perfectly preserved? Perfectly logical to the Greenies; and the deaths that result from their actions are consequences that they feel are worth the cost. I wonder if anyone has asked the survivors of the deceased their opinions…

And in the meanwhile, the Killer Greens have their way in the Adirondacks, and while folks die all around them, they pat themselves on the back…can’t wait until they can foist their policies upon the rest of us!

Ahhhh… sure… we’re not sure how the quality of life in Old Bridge, NJ is treating the Jersey Wing Nut, but we’re pretty sure the vast majority of folks here in our region would laugh at the thought of living there and our environment is the reason, not their cell phone coverage.

Anyway, here are some things to consider:

The Adirondack Park Agency already approved 32 – count ’em – thirty-two towers along the Northway. Even though they make a mint on out-of-service-area calls, the cell phone companies couldn’t make ENOUGH profit to install the towers.

Economic disparity makes owning a cell phone in Adirondack counties a lot less likely, even if service was available. The cell tower solution leaves the working poor, the elderly, and others who likely don’t have cell phones out of luck. They rely on common sense and avoid making trips across mountain passes during blizzards and ice storms.

Complete cell-phone coverage in the Adirondacks is a pipe-dream, unless there are towers on nearly every mountain in the region. Anyone who lives in the mountains, or even in the hilly suburbs knows they lose service all the time, no matter how close the nearest tower is.

Dependence on cell-phones in the case of emergency is downright stupid. Survival in the wilderness in the depths of winter is not dependent on the battery in your cell-phone or the nearest tower, it depends on your emergency preparation and winter survival skills – a $2 emergency blanket in the glove box might have saved the life of the first stranded motorist. The second died of a heart-attack while tromping through three foot snows.

If lower income people in our region can’t afford their own cell-phone service why should they be required to subsidize the cell service of downstaters? In Saratoga County, there was the plan to spend $12 to $15 million to improve cell service. The first call from Little and Sayward was to demand the state step in and foot the bill. If they were concerned about saving lives (especially of locals), they would fund helicopter rescue services, signs for thin ice, free health screenings, additional health centers, and a thousand other things people in the mountains need. $10 million would save a lot more lives (lost to heart attacks and broken bones) if it were spent on shoveling old folks’ homes out during storms.

Lake George Fire Chief Bruce Kilburn got it right when he said, “Some good preparedness and some prevention can alleviate and prevent a lot.” He suggested:

Having an emergency kit in your car.
Wearing warm clothes in winter in case you break down.
Carrying extra clothes or extra blankets.
Keeping emergency flares in your car.
Carrying an air horn in car.

He forgot to add: don’t cross mountain passes in the depths of a blizzard or ice storm unless you are prepared for the worst.

If there is anyone to blame for these terrible tragedies it’s the cell companies who just couldn’t make enough money – the proof is in the fact that those companies, Verizon, Sprint-Nextel, AT&T and T-Mobil among them, have now (according to Sayward) “committed to engineering [a] plan for the Adirondacks for us.” Unfortunately, Sayward still doesn’t get it, she added “so if we can gather the information, [sic] see if we can get this done over time.”

You keep working on it Theresa, but the next time someone dies on I-87 – take a few minutes to think about why you didn’t demand the cell companies install those long-approved towers. In the meantime, we’ll accept the message of Saranac Lake resident Mark Wilson, who said this week, “Life within the blue line is not easy, and it’s not meant to be easy sometimes.”

True enough.