Adirondack Park Agency deems application complete
By Gwendolyn Craig
The Adirondack Park Agency is inviting more public comment on a proposed 277-site campground on Great Sacandaga Lake in the Town of Mayfield, a project that has received support from the town but pushback from several neighbors.
On Nov. 15, the APA designated Lane Winney’s major project application for the campground as complete and will be accepting public comments through Dec. 8.
Public comments may be submitted online at https://apa.ny.gov/Hearings/ApaCommentPopup.cfm?ProjectNumber=2022-0008 or via mail to Ariel Lynch, Adirondack Park Agency, P.O. Box 99, Ray Brook, NY 12977.
The Town of Mayfield Planning Board approved a special permit for the campground at its June 15 meeting, records show.
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The Fulton County site is 83.4 acres in the area of Woods Hollow Road and state Route 30, but about 39.5 acres are within the Adirondack Park. Of the 277 campsites, 123 are located wholly or partially within the park. Ninety are RV sites, 20 are glamping sites and 13 are primitive tent sites. The campground plans include bathhouse facilities, an office building, maintenance building, mechanical building, a playground area, on-site water supply, wastewater systems, utilities, fencing, vegetative plantings and stormwater management. It is expected to operate from April to November, with an average daily total of 400 visitors in the spring and fall and 800 visitors in the summer.
Winney and his daughter Kalei Winney were recipients of a $200,000 Market New York award announced at the end of last year and part of Round 11 of the Regional Economic Development Council initiative. A spokesperson for Empire State Development confirmed that the project, once complete, is eligible for reimbursement on construction costs from the award. The spokesperson said Empire State Development expected completion of the project in 2024.
Winney told the Explorer he’d be delighted if the campground was completed by 2024, but he doubted it would be done by then.
“It’s all in permitting now,” he said. “There’s a lot of work there, and everything is a lot more expensive than when we started this project. We’ll do the best we can.”
An APA spokesperson did not say if commissioners would vote on the application this month, adding staff are “currently reviewing the application.”
Many neighbors have not welcomed the idea of an RV park in their backyard, and have spent the last several years campaigning against it. Comments submitted to the APA so far show a nearly even split between those in favor, 12, and those against, 13. Winney thinks some people expect the APA to halt any kind of development in the park.
“It’s not to stop people from doing stuff; it’s to make sure people are doing it the right way,” he said.
Between the planning board and APA permitting process, Winney has made some concessions. The entrance to the park, for example, will not be on the dead-end, residential Woods Hollow Road, but rather the state highway. Winney had proposed an amphitheater at the water’s edge, but that has been scrapped.
The planning board requires he put up a 6-foot-high fence on all areas adjacent to residential properties and other sensitive areas and that no construction vehicles be allowed on Woods Hollow Road. The APA application was originally for 300 campsites, but it has since been reduced to 277. Winney said he supposes the concessions made will better protect the environment. He also hopes visitors will be able to enjoy nature. The sites will be more private and spaced out.
The Town of Mayfield’s Comprehensive Plan published in 2013 notes that there are not enough places for visitors to stay. It encourages the development of a hotel and RV park near Great Sacandaga Lake, a 20,000-acre manmade lake in the southern part of the park. About a dozen commenters wrote the APA in support of the project so far, including RV owners, eager for another destination.
The Winneys already own and operate Dun Loggin’ Campground on the eastern side of the lake. A neighbor there, Stephen Flubacher, wrote the Winneys “are good stewards of the land and waterfront,” and “are respectful of the neighbors. The new campground will give people the opportunity to enjoy, and appreciate the outdoors and the Great Sacandaga Lake.”
Andrew Kosiba, a land surveyor for the New York State Thruway Authority, submitted a comment with his state email to the APA also in favor of the campground. His in-laws, he wrote, frequent the Winneys’ current campground.
“Recently my family began spending more time on the lake and we’ve realized having more access points would be beneficial, even if they come with a fee,” Kosiba wrote. “We are excited at the chance to add this campground to our local list for when we want to get away but not too far away!”
A cadre of neighbors, who have been against the project from the start, continued to show concern over potential environmental and quality-of-life decline. They are concerned about additional traffic, garbage, sewage, noise, displacement of wildlife, water-quality impacts and tree cutting. Despite the main entrance being on the state highway, one neighbor said there will be increased traffic on Woods Hollow Road where there will still be an access point to the campground.
“Petitioners should strive to be a good neighbor to those who have built their family homes, dream homes, retirement homes, what have you, and increase the natural buffer between their project and those adjoining properties,” wrote Don Howe, a neighbor to the project site. “Voices carry far at night. Smoke and the smells of campfires. Traffic noises. These all affect quality of life.”
Dawn Vunk said she might support a smaller project. “Some lake areas are experiencing overcrowding,” she wrote.
Christine Goossens, who has been one of the more vocal neighbors against the project, told the agency she hoped a professional engineer would “determine the environmental impact of this large project” and that “a stronger more realistic traffic study” be done. She hired Sterling Environmental Engineering to review the application and attached its notes for the APA to review. The traffic studies in the application were done during off-peak times, Goossens said. She wanted one done during a summer holiday weekend.
Goossens, Vunk and others are also worried about potential public safety ramifications of an RV park in the neighborhood. They worried traffic back-ups along the highway to their road could keep first responders from getting to residents.
“Our first responders are already at a premium creating possible slower response times,” Vunk said.
Winney said he thinks his neighbors are going to be dissatisfied no matter what.
“It’s going to be a beautiful campground,” he said. “They’re worried about something (they’re) conjuring up in their heads.”
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