The November/December issue of the Explorer will contain an article and a debate on a lawsuit filed against the state by five military veterans who contend that the state’s ban on floatplanes in Wilderness Areas violates the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.
Today, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo filed an answer to the suit. Most of the document is filled with standard legalese (“Deny knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief …”), but it provides insight into the state’s defense.
Assistant Attorney General Susan Taylor contends in the answer that the federal law does not require the state to provide the disabled with access to every part of the Adirondack Park.
“A substantial portion of the entire Adirondack Park is accessible to the plaintiffs, including many lakes and ponds on which float planes are permitted to land and from which they are permitted to take off,” Taylor writes.
In recent years, the state Department of Environmental Conservation has spent millions of dollars to make boat launches, viewing platforms, hardened trails, roads, and other facilities accessible to the disabled.
Most of these facilities are on Forest Preserve tracts designated Wild Forest, not Wilderness. However, Taylor asserts that the disabled do have access to some lakes in Wilderness. She mentions as examples Little Tupper Lake and waterways in the Siamese Ponds, Silver Lake, West Canada, and Five Ponds Wilderness Areas.
The plaintiffs are represented by Lake Placid attorney Matthew Norfolk.
Click the link below to read the state’s answer (in PDF format).
Thanks to Carl Heilman II for permission to use the above photo.
They missed another excellent defense– I forget where I saw it suggested. Why can’t they simply hire a guide to paddle them into Low’s? Surely the ADA doesn’t require that access be provided via floatplane.