The Adirondack Park Agency has hired James Townsend, one of its former board members, to serve as the agency’s counsel. He will replace John Banta, who retired last year.
A Rochester lawyer, Townsend sat on the APA board from 1999 to 2010. He left when he wasn’t reappointed by Governor David Paterson.
APA Chairwoman Lani Ulrich made the announcement today. “For more than a decade, Mr. Townsend worked tirelessly on complicated Park issues and has a proven track record of accomplishments on behalf of the Adirondacks,” she said in a prepared statement.
Environmental activists also voiced support for the appointment.
“He has a rare combination of legal expertise and skills, as well as experience in Adirondack issues and a strong conservation ethic,” said John Sheehan, spokesman for the Adirondack Council.
Peter Bauer, executive director of Protect the Adirondacks, praised Townsend for possessing “a deep passion for the Adirondack Park.”
“He will quickly establish leadership within an institution recently rocked by substandard legal and administrative review work.” Bauer said. “Protect is also hopeful that Jim Townsend can help to rebuild the APA’s role as an agency that provides independent oversight of the Forest Preserve, rather than acting as an agency subservient to the positions of the Department of Environmental Conservation.”
Bob Glennon, a former APA counsel, expressed a similar hope. “The agency is dismasted, rudderless, and, sadly, heading for the rocks,” he said. “It has simply lost sight of the mission assigned it by the legislature. May Jim recognize that and may his love for the Adirondacks translate into the aggressive environmental and preservationist leadership it sorely lacks. I wish him all the best in his new position.”
Townsend’s appointment will take effect on January 29. Click the link below to read the APA’s news release (PDF file).