By MIKE LYNCH
Proponents of a road salt reduction bill signed into law earlier this week showed up Saranac Lake Friday to tout the new law and honor the man they named it for: the late Randy Preston, a longtime Wilmington town supervisor.
“None of this would have happened without a friend of all of ours right now,” said state Assemblyman Billy Jones, who sponsored the bill. “I know he’s probably looking down on us making fun of my hair and with a big smirk on his face, saying what’s the big deal? Just get the job done. Well, I can say, Randy, we got the job done. We will continue to get it done.”
Jones was joined at the podium at the Berkley Green by state Sen. Betty Little; her soon to be replacement, state Senator-elect Dan Stec, currently a state assemblyman; Adirondack Council Executive Director Willie Janeway; Adirondack Watershed Institute Executive Director Dan Kelting, and others.
The Randy Preston Road Salt Reduction Act establishes a 15-member task force and a three-year pilot plan and test study in the Adirondacks. The results of the study will lead to recommendations for winter maintenance on state roads no later than 2024, Jones said.
Advocacy groups, including ADK Action and Lake George conservation organizations, have been pushing for the state to reduce the amount of salt used on its roads for years. Studies by AWI and other groups have shown that it is contaminating Adirondack waters, including lakes, aquifers and drinking wells.
Preston participated in road salt conferences for years, and was a strong advocate for reducing road salt usage on roads. His support for the issue was considered especially important because of his role as a town supervisor, which have often found themselves at odds with environmental advocacy organizations and causes in the Adirondack Park.
He died last year.
“On behalf of our entire family, I want to thank everyone for their hard work,” his wife, Michelle Preston said. “Something else he used to say to me was inspired by the committees and everyone that worked so hard on this project.”
“He wasn’t a quitter. Even through his sickness, he wasn’t quitting, and I believe that was what made this happen and I applaud everyone … for pushing it through on behalf. So thank you so much for not letting this die with him.”
Jones said the bill had strong support in Albany.
“Although many people have been working very hard on this for many, many years, this bill actually took off pretty quickly,” he said. “That’s due to the hard work of everyone here. It’s not often that you get a bill proposed and through in one year. Albany does not work like that.”
Well, great news. But the state DOT already knows brine uses 75% less salt than rock salt and is more effective at lower temperatures. The committee will study for 3 years, then how long before the 300 million pounds of salt is cut to 75 million using brine? Seems like a way to ignore an obvious problem with a known solution for another 5 or 10 years.