TO: Batchellerville Bridge Action Committee Members
FROM: Peter VanAvery
DATE: December 4, 2006

The second meeting of the Great Sacandaga Lake Advisory Committee will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, December 6, 2006, at the Town of Broadalbin Offices on Union Mills Road in Broadalbin. The third meeting is tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, December 13, 2006, at a location to be announced. Time/location of future meetings will be posted on the Regulating District's web site: All meetings are open to the public.

Here's my take on the Advisory Committee's first meeting, held November 29 in Northville:

  • The session was billed as an organizational meeting. That did not happen. To allow the 20 members more time to become acquainted with one another, the decision was made to defer selection of a chairman until the next meeting. Members interested in the post have been asked to submit their names/biographical info to the District for distribution prior to the vote.
  • Trust is a commodity in very short supply along the shores of Great Sacandaga Lake. The lake's 4,530 non-commercial access permit holders have learned from bitter experience (check water levels lately?) that they should be suspicious of anything -- including the Advisory Committee's recommendations -- that could impact their quality of life and their property value.
  • First, it seems obvious to me that an advisory committee created to recommend rules for access permit holders ought to be composed exclusively of access permit holders. At least one committee member is not, and there may be others. Secrecy about the committee's composition is counterproductive; the lake's access permit holders will not consider its recommendations as valid.

    Second, at least four members represent local business interests. That's about three too many. Two were appointed by the GSL Business Association. But the whole lake has only 59 commercial access permits. So if 59 commercial access permit holders are entitled to two members, then the lake's 4,530 non-commercial access permit holders are entitled to 154. That's simple math. In addition, one member each was appointed by the Fulton County and Saratoga County Chambers of Commerce.

    Third, each member -- whether appointed by a large town or a small town or by a large lake-area organization or a small lake-area organization -- has a vote equal to each of the others. How democratic is that?

    Fourth, with this mixed bag of members, I feel that any recommendations produced by the committee ought to be by consensus -- a decision that all can agree to and support. Executive Director Glenn LaFave said that this would be the goal -- although in case of disagreements, the majority vote would be reported to the District's board. Well, consensus vote and majority vote can't co-exist. This issue needs to be revisited by the committee after it organizes.

    With the exception of myself, committee members were unwilling to publicize how each voted on any particular rule (with the exception of consensus votes). I told them that I would let my members know how I voted on each rule -- so that they can give me feedback. I have nothing to hide.

  • The new rules will ultimately have to be submitted to the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation for its review and approval. No Regulating District rule can violate a DEC rule. Therefore, I suggested -- and others concurred -- that the committee invite the DEC to send us a representative to help us when we consider rules that obviously must conform to DEC's rule book.
  • Executive Director LaFave confirmed that the District has not summarized and analyzed the public's comments on the draft rules. That's going to make a lot of stakeholders -- namely, the folks who participated in the three public meetings held this summer and who also submitted recommendations in writing -- absolutely furious.
  • The 20-member committee is all male, making it an oddity in the 21st century.

  • The state is awarding $8 million to 12 North Country communities to implement critical water quality projects that will protect the Adirondacks and provide needed infrastructure improvements. The good news is that $200,000 is earmarked for the Town of Northampton to replace sanitary sewers with inflow/infiltration issues in Sacandaga Park. The century-old sewer lines, which lie below the water table, are cracked. This allows groundwater to enter the system and lower the operating efficiency of the Sacandaga Park wastewater treatment plant. The plant is designed to treat a maximum of 75,000 gallons of wastewater per day.

    The lake's level is currently at 769.78 feet above sea level -- about 15 feet above target. It does not have to be this high. The District is currently releasing water at the rate of about 4,000 cubic feet per second. It could be releasing more than three times as much water without causing flooding on the Upper Hudson.

    The next Regulating District board meeting will be held on Monday, December 11, 2006, at 10:00 a.m. at Johnstown City Hall, 33-41 East Main Street, Johnstown. Please note the new location.