TO: Batchellerville Bridge Action Committee Members FROM: Peter VanAvery
DATE: November 27, 2006

The first meeting of the newly formed Great Sacandaga Lake Advisory Committee will be held on Wednesday, November 29, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Town of Northampton Offices, 412 South Main Street, Northville. The committee was created to advise the Hudson River-Black River Regulating District on its effort to update the rules for access permit holders. This first session will be an organizational meeting only. Recommendations on the draft rules will not begin until the second meeting. All meetings will be open to the public and the press.

The advisory committee will have 20 members.

One person has been appointed by each of the supervisors of the Towns of Benson, Broadalbin, Day, Edinburg, Hadley, Hope, Mayfield, Northampton, and Providence.

In addition, the following organizations have each appointed one member: Back-Lot Owners Committee, Batchellerville Bridge Action Committee (I'll be the representative), Day Property Owners Association, Fish House Community Center, Fulton County Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Great Sacandaga Lake Association, Great Sacandaga Lake Fisheries Federation, Sacandaga Park Civic Association, and Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce.

The final two members were appointed by the Great Sacandaga Lake Business Association: one marina owner and one member who is not a marina owner.

As I have mentioned before, this committee's membership is not representational. I made this point in my statement at the Regulating District's November 13 board meeting. I am sending you a copy separately. Since the committee's deliberations may affect your quality of life and property value, you would do well to attend its meetings.

The biggest news at the District's November 13 board meeting came out during the public forum at the very end of the session. In response to a question about a rumor, Chairwoman Anne McDonald confirmed that the size of the board has been increased by two members, bringing its total to seven. The new members will be appointed by Governor Pataki.

This is bad news. Board member terms are staggered. Beginning September 1, 2007, one term will expire every year on that date, with the replacement appointed by Governor Eliot Spitzer. Unfortunately, unless he gets creative, Governor Spitzer will not achieve a majority (4) on the board until September 2010 -- just three months before his own term runs out.

When I asked Executive Director Glenn LaFave about the background, he responded: "The legislation increasing our board to 7 members is part of the Public Authorities Reform Act. I am not sure who sponsored the legislation. I believe the Governor and Comptroller supported the legislation, and it had many sponsors. It was not specific to the Regulating District."

At the November 13 board meeting, the District announced two new appointments of interest.

Mark Visscher of Ballston Spa has been hired as Administrator-Sacandaga Field Office, replacing James M. Lewek who plans to retire by year-end. According to a Leader-Herald report, Executive Director Glenn LaFave says Mr. Visscher is uniquely qualified for this position because he holds dual degrees in both engineering and law. The District has provided no additional background information. For example, where was he previously employed? What type of engineering degree does he hold? Which institution awarded it? As the result of a Freedom of Information request, I can tell you that, as of July 1, 2005, the annual salary for this position was $60,943.

William L. Busler of Delmar was hired as the Regulating District's counsel. He replaces Shari Calnero, who resigned last February. No further information was provided. Again, thanks to that FOIL request mentioned above, we know that, as of July 1, 2005, the annual salary for this position was $79,181.

Also at the November 13 meeting, the board asked Chief Fiscal Officer Richard Ferrara for a progress report on the repair of the broken Dow valve at the Conklingville Dam. At its September meeting, after it learned that one of the three Dow valves used for the emergency release of water would not open, the board instructed the District to give top priority to the fix. The board was disappointed to learn that the District was still shuffling paper on the project and could not provide a completion date. Did you expect anything different?

The board also heard a progress report from Chief Engineer Robert Foltan on rip-rapping seriously eroded areas of the shoreline. The box score: 58 permit areas have been remediated since July 1.

From reports that I'm receiving from boaters, it appears that this was the worst year yet for slime build-up on their hulls. The last time the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation assessed the lake's water quality was December 1991. Some people are saying that DEC doesn't want us to know the facts about water quality because they might scare away tourists.

On November 17, Great Sacandaga Lake rose to an elevation of 770.9 feet above sea level, putting it within about one inch of slopping over the spillway at the Conklingville Dam and forcing the Regulating District to once again open the Dow valves (at least the two that aren't broken). This contributed to flooding at Fort Edward on November 17 & 18.

The lake's level is currently at 769.4 feet above sea level. Could the District be releasing water faster? Yes, a lot faster. The Hudson River hits flood stage at Fort Edward when its flow exceeds about 23,600 cubic feet per second. At the moment, the flow is only 8970 cfs -- a difference of 14,630 cfs. The District could safely release that much extra water.