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  1. David Gibson says

    Brad, there are several important inaccuracies in your piece which deserve comment. I was at the State Capitol frequently in those years as the executive director of the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks. It is true that Park legislation was introduced and passed by the State Assembly and had the support of Governor Mario Cuomo. The year was 1992. The bill was then subject to negotiation with the State Senate. The bill was not about, as you report, “funds to buy a few choice parcels to add to the Forest Preserve.” It was about amending the Adirondack Park Agency Act to better protect private lakeshores and Resource Management areas. My organization was, like the Adirondack Council, intensely interested in its passage because the 1973 APA Private Land Use Plan’s protections for lakeshores and backcountry forests proved several of its greatest weaknesses. It is true that Senator Stafford held all the cards for its passage in the Senate and it is also true that Harold Jerry had an influential relationship with Stafford, and asked Stafford not to support the bill because of Stafford’s insistence on a poison pill, which you do not describe accurately. Stafford did not insist on moving ” the Adirondack Park Agency out of the executive budget and make it an independent commission.” APA has always been an independent agency within the Executive branch of government. Instead, State Sen. Stafford insisted that in return for stronger lakeshore and backcountry protections the APA become an arm of the Department of Environmental Conservation, or DEC. That was what Harold Jerry objected to so strenuously because since the APA’s inception many within DEC had been hostile to the agency. And, despite my organization’s advocacy for the bill and my shock when Stafford abruptly ended negotiations, Harold Jerry was absolutely right to do what he did. As weak as APA may be today, its land use planning map and powers would have been eviscerated within the NYS DEC. Stafford’s poison pill was truly a bridge too far for Harold Jerry – and for me. The Adirondack Council’s leadership at the time was OK with folding APA into the DEC in return for stronger Park protections in the law. Because he held the line on the relative independence of the APA, Harold Jerry was (in my view very unfairly) shunned by the Adirondack Council and was forced to leave its board. Fortunately, Jerry remained an influential board member of my organization until his death in 2001. Much as I wanted the bill’s lakeshore and backcountry protections to pass, I will always admire Harold Jerry’s influence with Senator Stafford on that memorable day in 1992.

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