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Governor Andrew Cuomo (R) with Bill Ulfelder, Executive Director of the Nature Conservancy in New York, signing the Finch Pruyn deal Sunday in Lake Placid. Photo:  Brian Mann
Governor Andrew Cuomo (R) with Bill Ulfelder, Executive Director of the Nature Conservancy in New York, signing the Finch Pruyn deal Sunday in Lake Placid. Photo: Brian Mann

Local government review board blasts $47 million Cuomo land deal as "irresponsible"

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A state funded watchdog group is blasting Governor Cuomo for his decision to purchase tens of thousands of acres of Adirondack land, to be added to the Park's forest preserve. The $47-milllion deal was unveiled on Sunday.

A group called the Adirondack Park Local Government Review board is calling the decision irresponsible. Brian Mann has details.

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The Adirondack Park local government review board was established in the 1970s to provide oversight and feedback to the Adirondack Park Agency, which had no role in Sunday's announcement.  Land purchases are handled by the Conservation Department and the governor's office. But over the years, the Review Board has expanded its role, taking public positions on a wide range of topics, including opposition to expanding the Park's forest preserve. 

Yesterday, the group issued a statement from executive director Fred Monroe and board president Jerry Delaney who blasted this latest deal $47-million deal, calling it "unprecedented in its overall fiscal irresponsibility." They argued that "New York's economy is in dire straits" and say "the small rural communities of the Adirondacks struggle to survive."

After initially supporting the huge conservation project, a number of Park towns have passed resolutions opposing it. But the Local Government Review Board's position is complicated by the fact that some local government leaders support this governor's plan.

This week, Minerva town supervisor Sue Montgomery Corey, a Democrat whose town is directly affected,  praised the land acquisition as a boon to local tourism.

Speaking with the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, the chair of the Essex County Board of Supervisors, Randy Douglas, also endorsed the deal.
"There's always going to be people out there that don't want the state to have any more property acquisitions," Douglas told the newspaper.  "I think this is the best compromise for the community to have access to beautiful land."

As part of the larger Finch Pruyn deal, roughly 90,000 acres of land was left in private hands, open to timber production, and more acreage was sold to local communities for development projects. But according to the Local Government Review Board, the conservation project will still make it impossible to harvest valuable stands of trees. In their view, that will cost the region jobs.

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