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Debate Over Adirondack Ballot Proposition Intensifies

Carl Heilman II

The debate over New York’s Proposition 5 is heating up with dueling endorsements, announcements and arguments over the proposal.

Proposition 5 is a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would, according to the ballot proposal: “authorize the Legislature to convey forest preserve land located in the town of Lewis, Essex County, to NYCO Minerals, a private company that plans on expanding an existing mine that adjoins the forest preserve land. In exchange, NYCO Minerals would give the State at least the same amount of land.....to be added to the forest preserve. When NYCO Minerals finishes mining, it would restore the condition of the land and return it to the forest preserve.”
Because it affects constitutionally protected lands in the Adirondacks, voters across the state must approve or reject the proposal.

Supporters and opponents have both mounted intense campaigns over the proposal ahead of Election Day.
The Vote Yes for the Adirondacks Coalition of government, community and business groups is rigorously  promoting support of the land swap.
 Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board Executive Director Fred Monroe says the economy wins and the forest preserve will benefit because in the long run the forest preserve will gain acreage.

Protect the Adirondacks, Sierra Club and Adirondack Wild are adamantly opposed to the proposition and have launched a websiteto fight its passage.  Sierra Club Adirondack Committee member Charles Morrison points to Article 14 of the state constitution, which states “the lands of the state, now owned or hereafter acquired, constituting the forest preserve ....shall be forever kept as wild forest lands.” Morrison says Proposition 5 endangers that clause.

Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages President and Town of Wells supervisor Brian Towers disputes the argument over precedent and doesn’t believe this swap would harm the forever wild clause.

Regardless of their opinion regarding the proposition, both sides are concerned over where the proposition is placed on the ballot. Fred Monroe, who is also town of Chester supervisor, notes that besides being on the back of the ballot, there’s another risk to the proposition’s outcome.

Another proposition related to the Adirondacks is Proposition 4, often referred to as the Township 40 proposal, which would resolve property title issues in the town of Long Lake and allow the state to obtain lands for the Forest Preserve.
Both propositions have been approved by two consecutively elected state legislatures.

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