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Bill Owens: The Health And Safety Land Account

A common sense Constitutional amendment has been put forward for a vote this November.  The State Assembly with strong leadership from Assemblyman D. Billy Jones and the State Senate with strong support from Senator Betty Little have voted in two consecutive years to move this amendment forward as well as having passed enabling legislation. The amendment creates a 250 acre land bank in the Adirondacks and the Catskills.  These two constitutionally protected areas of the state provide enormous green space which aid in the protection of our environment and are major attractions for tourism and recreation bringing tens of thousands of visitors from outside of New York.  This is the second proposal that I recall which provided for a common sense response to the needs of Adirondack communities.  Several years ago, a land swap occurred in Essex County for the NYCO mining facility, which was a hotly contested amendment to the state Constitution, but nonetheless, it passed and NYCO was allowed to expand in exchange for returning land of equal size to the Adirondack Park. 

I supported as a member of Congress the NYCO Amendment, and fully support this amendment and the enabling legislation. 

Some specific examples of how this legislation will aid our communities include the expansion of broadband fiber which enhances educational and economic opportunities throughout the region; repairing hazards on bridges and highways; relocating highways where necessary and developing wells to positively impact water quality.  It has long been argued that we need to make the Adirondack communities sustainable, so that we have facilities for tourists engaged in recreation, whether it is hiking, canoeing, fishing, hunting, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, or walking to provide food, lodging, gasoline or other necessities which only can be provided in the small villages and hamlets in the Adirondacks.  Those villages and hamlets must have the opportunity to take action in a timely manner without going through a lengthy regulatory process to accomplish tasks which are nothing more than common sense.

I was delighted to see the Adirondack Council Executive Director, Willie Janeway supporting this amendment, as his organization represents a concerned voice for desiring to ensure that the Adirondacks stay pristine and contribute to a healthy economic climate for our communities.  

That’s why I support the amendment.

Mr. Owens is a former member of Congress representing the New York 21st, a partner in Stafford Owens in Plattsburgh, NY and a Senior Advisor to Dentons to Washington, DC.

The views expressed by commentators are solely those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of this station or its management.

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