From a squabble over obtaining land to vast tracks of the Adirondacks opening to the public, a number of issues flared in northern New York during 2018. WAMC’s North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley looks back.
Relations between the city and town of Plattsburgh were strained over the course of 2018. In March the city sued the town claiming that a Payment in Lieu of Taxes agreement had been violated and the city was owed more than a million dollars. County Legislative Deputy Chair Bobby Hall called the lawsuit ridiculous. “A lawsuit over Falcon Seaboard is not the answer. I do not even know who is right and who is wrong because it happened so long ago. But this is not the way to go.”
Tensions increased in August when Mayor Colin Read suggested annexation of town land adjacent to the city. He said obtaining taxable properties is critical for the city’s survival. “Our future can’t be dictated by artificial lines on maps. We have to look for places to develop and we expect and assume we’re going to have cooperation to do so.”
But in early December Town Supervisor Michael Cashman said a formal petition from the city had not yet been received. “It’s going to require public hearings. Those public hearings have not been scheduled yet largely because the city of Plattsburgh has not given the Town of Plattsburgh the formal petition. It seems as though the city was very anxious in getting this moving forward and yet here we sit waiting.”
The city of Plattsburgh made international headlines when leaders decided in March to place an 18-month moratorium on new cryptocurrency operations. Mayor Colin Read: “This isn’t because we’re Luddites. It isn’t because we’re afraid of cryptocurrency. We have a fixed resource. And unlike some other communities that the Bitcoiners are going to where they can simply buy more power we don’t have that. We’ve got 104 megawatts. We’ve got a fixed amount.”
There were significant changes in the Adirondacks as the final classification for the Boreas Ponds land acquisition was made by the Adirondack Park Agency and the DEC. Dan Plumley with Adirondack Wild was guarded about the plans. “Their UMP’s were somewhat deficient but they did offer a ray of hope in recognizing the need for what’s called Wildlands Monitoring Plans.”
The New York state Department of Environmental Conservation started restricting parking in some higher use areas of the Adirondacks. Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages President Matt Simpson hoped the newly acquired lands and the redevelopment of the former Frontier Town will disperse visitors to other areas of the park. "I think we’re going to hopefully be able to show people there’s many other places within the Adirondack Park that they should visit.”
In November the first episode of Ben Stiller’s long-awaited Showtime miniseries portraying the Dannemora prison escape premiered in Plattsburgh. “What was interesting to me was the fact that these two inmates actually pulled off this escape in 2015 that seemed like something that would have happened 20 or 30 or 40 years ago.”
In June, Tedra Cobb won a Democratic primary for the 21st Congressional district that had seen up to 10 candidates. Incumbent Republican Elise Stefanik easily won re-election in the general.