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Moratorium on Park land purchases would affect Finch, Pruyn deal

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We first reported yesterday that state Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward from Willsboro is proposing that new state land purchases in the Adirondacks and the Catskills be suspended. Sayward says a court battle over property tax payments, known as the Dillenburg case, should be settled before any more land is added to the forest preserve. A judge ruled late last year that the state's system for paying taxes on public land is arbitrary and unfair and should be scrapped. The loss of those revenues would destroy local governments in the Adirondacks. New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has appealed the Dillenburg ruling. But in a public letter, Sayward urged Governor Spitzer and DEC Commissioner Peter Grannis to "place a moratorium on any further land purchases...until the issue is resolved in the courts." Sayward's proposal comes at a time when the Adirondack Nature Conservancy is hoping that the state will purchase big chunks of land and conservation easements on the former Finch, Pruyn lands. Mike Carr is the Nature Conservancy's executive director. The Nature Conservancy borrowed more than $100 million to finance the Finch, Pruyn deal, which covers roughly 161,000 acres in the Adirondacks. In an interview with Brian Mann, held before Assemblywoman Sayward proposed the moratorium, Carr said parts of the property could be sold to the state as early as next spring. But Carr acknowledged that the Dillenburg case had raised new questions.

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Reported by

Brian Mann
Adirondack Bureau Chief

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