TO: Batchellerville Bridge Action Committee Members
FROM: Peter Van Avery
DATE: October 23, 2010

Governor Paterson's telephone number is 518-474-8390. I urge you to call his office after you read this newsletter.

The state has again declared war on the 4,800 access permit holders on Great Sacandaga Lake. The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, in the person of Conservation Officer Lt. John Ellithorpe, has ruled that pedestrians can walk anywhere on the state-owned land ringing the lake as long as they can gain access to it legally.

This is the second time that DEC has attempted this outrage. In 2009, the first time, DEC interceded in the Regulating District's rule-revision process and tried to convert the access permit zone into a public park open 24/7. Faced with a public uproar, the Governor terminated the process.

This renewed DEC attack, if successful, could sound the death knell for the access permit system administered by the Hudson River-Black River Regulating District.

For decades, the District has posted signs on each of the lake's 4,800 individual access permit areas proclaiming that the individuals designated have "exclusive use" of that particular permit area. With that assurance, property owners willingly paid a huge premium (and punishingly high taxes) for homes on the lake. The loss of "exclusive use" could devalue property by as much as 40 percent -- and that figure may turn out to be conservative.

Following Lt. Ellithorpe's ruling, Fulton County Sheriff Thomas Lorey announced that he will no longer entertain complaints about pedestrians walking on the access permit zone. What is still unknown is whether DEC's ruling allows those pedestrians to loiter and have picnics, hold beer parties, blast boom boxes, swim, etc. So far, the Sheriff's Office in Saratoga County has not announced its reaction to this ruling.

Lt. Ellithorpe appears to be unaware of the fact that some property owners have deeded rights that give them ownership of their land right up to the water's edge. Pedestrians walking on this private property would definitely be guilty of trespassing.


What next? Here are my recommendations:

1. Call the Governor's Office. He "owns" this problem -- both the DEC and the Regulating District report to him. Tell him that this new DEC ruling, which promises a devastating economic impact on homeowners and their communities, should be put on hold pending further discussion and study -- especially since DEC is now leaderless with the Governor's recent firing of Commissioner Pete Grannis. (Unfortunately, Mr. Grannis's cronies still hold leadership positions throughout the agency.) Describe how the ruling would adversely and unfairly impact your own property value and quality of life. Be specific -- see examples below.

2. Ask the Governor to support a constitutional amendment that would allow permit holders to purchase a large tract of land elsewhere in the Adirondack Park and swap it for the state-owned land around the lake. This would be a complex undertaking -- but it has been suggested as a possibility by a spokesman for the Adirondack Council.

3. Take your complaints to other elected officials (see list on our web site -- www.nybbac.org)).

4. Contact your local tax assessor and inform him that if this DEC ruling holds, you'll expect him to radically reduce the assessment on your property. This will send a message to folks in the surrounding towns that they're going to have to share our loss. It'll be up to them to make up the difference.

That's just for starters. With the Governor leaving office in two months, this could be a long struggle. But unless we push back, our way of life at Great Sacandaga Lake will be history.


DEC's ruling will have widespread impact. Some examples:


The next meeting of the Regulating District's board will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, November 9, 2010, at the Indian Lake Town Office, Pelon Road, Indian Lake, NY.


The lake is now at 764.5 feet above sea level -- about 5 feet above target.