New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has submitted a list of nominees to fill long empty seats on the Adirondack Park Agency board.
The agency that reviews development projects in the Adirondack Park has an 11-member board. But currently four members are serving on expired terms, three seats are vacant, there is no chair and one person’s term expires at the end of this month.
Governor Cuomo has now submitted seven names for Senate confirmation: Adirondack Watershed Institute Assistant Director Zoe Smith; St. Lawrence County Town of Fine former supervisor Mark Hall; Johnsburg Supervisor Andrea Hogan; Lake Pleasant Supervisor Dan Wilt; Lake Placid businessman Art Lussi and former DEC Central New York regional director Ken Lynch. John Ernst was re-nominated to serve on the board.
Last year the Adirondack Council opposed a partial slate of nominees to serve on the board. Spokesman John Sheehan explains. “The full board is really the basic issue that we were concerned about. We didn't have a chairman. We did not have a full complement of commissioners and we were in a position where the agency was occasionally having trouble getting a quorum to do its job. Not having enough people to make a decision is a bad place to be and we needed that basic working agency to be there.”
Council Executive Director Willy Janeway adds: “There are decisions that the agency board needs to make and without the seats filled and without the diversity of environmental planning, and yes, this slate does have economic development and local government advocates on it too. But it provides diversity. So without that it would be really hard for the Park Agency to do its important work.”
Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages President Matt Simpson believes the nominees will bring a balanced perspective to the Park Agency board. “It's well balanced. You know the people come from diverse backgrounds and I think they all have the interest of the Adirondack Park at the top of their list.”
Five of the 11 board members must be residents of the park and three nominees live inside the Blue Line. Adirondack Park Government Review Board Executive Director Gerald Delaney says he knows all of them. “The in-park residents are active. They understand the agency. They also understand the impact on the environment. The Review Board really feels that the in-park residents should reflect the population that they're making decisions for and all in all I think the governor hit the nail on the head with this one. I'm really happy in general with the whole slate.”
Protect the Adirondacks is not pleased with the governor’s roster of nominees. Executive Director Peter Bauer questions the independence of the potential board members. “All three of the people that we are opposing all have a long track record of policy issues that we take issue with. We don't think that anybody should be in a leadership position at the Adirondack Park Agency who was on the wrong side of Forever Wild.”
The nominees must be approved by the New York state Senate, which is expected to review them later this week.