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New York Settles Adirondack Land Dispute

Township 40 map circa 1900
Ryan Byrne/Ballotpedia
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Township 40 map circa 1900

New York has obtained the 296-acre Marion River Carry in the Adirondacks in a deal that resolves a more than century-old history of property disputes between the state and Raquette Lake landowners.
In November 2013, voters in New York approved Proposal 4, a constitutional amendment intended to resolve title disputes with more than 200 landowners in Township 40 in the Raquette Lake area of the Adirondacks.  Landowner Carolyn Gerdin says the vote allowed for a settlement. The Legislature would determine if replacement land was a net benefit to the state while the owners of contested property decided whether they would participate.   “As part of the settlement we were required, it was a percentage of your assessed value of your contested piece.  And actually the town of Long Lake held that money.  And then that money is the money that was given to OSI to go towards the purchase price of the Marion River Carry.  And then last June the legislature voted upon and agreed unanimously that the Marion River Carry parcel was of net benefit to the citizens of New York state.”

In 2012 OSI, or the Open Space Institute, purchased the Marion River Carry, a portage trail connecting Blue Mountain, Utowana and Raquette lakes.  Senior Vice President Eric Kulleseid explains that the Institute subsequently gave the property to the state. “We just out and out purchased the property from the former landowner and held it until the state and the local towns could settle out on the issues at Raquette Lake.”

On Monday, Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos signed ceremonial maps finalizing the settlement.  Kulleseid is ecstatic to close the deal.  “We saw some of the landowners and the look of relief and the look of joy on the landowners that’s now a hundred and fifty year dispute has been lifted. But for us it’s a way to give back to this landscape and one of the most beautiful pieces of property in the Adirondacks is now part of the public realm forever.”

Gerdin says the DEC will soon send letters to landowners relinquishing any state claims to their property.   “It’s just so significant because people have lived with this fear, concern, for generations that perhaps someday they would be taken to court by the state, that something would happen.  It’s very hard to put in words what it means to people that have been involved in this. And it’s been a long struggle.”

Protect the Adirondacks Executive Director Peter Bauer says this ends a century-long dispute.  “Because it was so complicated and because there were well over a hundred landowners and because it deals with things like title history that went back decades, and then there have been numerous court cases it was a very difficult issue to resolve.”

According to the governor’s office the Open Space Institute received $631,793.11 in landowner payments from the Town of Long Lake and paid $2 million for the property.  The Marion Carry land is part of the Forest Preserve and is now permanently open for public recreation.

 

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