TO: Batchellerville Bridge Action Committee Members
FROM: Peter Van Avery
DATE: September 30, 2011

The best source of good news at Great Sacandaga Lake continues to be the Batchellerville Bridge replacement project. According to Carol Breen, spokesperson for the NYS Department of Transportation, "All 12 piers will be either completed or 'out of the water' by the end of this construction season. Completed piers will have the concrete pier column coming out of the water with a concrete cap at the top. Piers that are 'out of the water' will have a finished concrete pier column, but may not have a completed concrete cap at the top."

The contractor (Harrison & Burrowes) will start installing the steel girders at the beginning of October, so steelwork should be visible within the next week or two. The contractor will continue working as long as possible, but will shut down for the season, probably near the time the lake begins to freeze. According to the latest estimate, the new bridge should be completed in the fall of 2012 -- a year ahead of the schedule specified in the contract. Notes Breen: "The contractor has made very good progress this year, and we are very pleased with their work."

If you happen to drive through the streets of the Village of Northville, you'll be astounded at the number of "For Sale" signs you see -- up around 50, according to one estimate. They include such visible commercial properties as the Inn at the Bridge (listed at $535,000) on Bridge Street. It just reopened this past spring under new management. Also listed by realtors: the Timeless Tavern & Inn ($699,000) on South Main Street and the Northville Liquor Store ($259,500) on North Main Street.

Have you had any problems with outsiders trespassing on your access permit area this year? If you have, please jot down the particulars and email them to me ( This has been an occasional problem in the past, and I'd to see if it's getting better, getting worse, or staying about the same. Thanks for your input.

At its September meeting, the Hudson River-Black River Regulating District's board considered how to deal with access permit holders who dump a significant amount of fill on state land without permission and then don't remediate the problem in a timely manner.

In one current case, the District said that the permit holder had asked for permission to dump 15 yards of fill on state land, but was granted approval for only 10 cubic yards. Allegedly, the permit holder exceeded that limit. The permit holder also had requested permission, which was denied, to have the fill spread by heavy machinery. Acting on the basis of a tip, the District discovered that the permit holder's contractor was using heavy machinery anyway. District field personnel went to the site and issued a stop-work order to the contractor, who apparently ignored it.

When the District subsequently staked out the line between private and state land, the stakes were removed by parties unknown. The District then replaced them -- only to have them disappear a second time. Meanwhile, a Department of Environmental Conservation enforcement officer visited the problem site, and the District is waiting to see if DEC takes any action. Apparently, the District's enforcement power is limited to revoking an access permit and then giving its former holder an opportunity to plead his case to the board.

This latest encroachment issue has dragged along for months. During the discussion, the board also learned that some other unresolved issues with permit holders date as far back as 2006. The board -- concerned about what might happen if the access permit community concludes that the District's rules have no teeth -- instructed the District to stop messing around and take fast action.

What I find unacceptable is this. The District has been in the business of issuing access permits for nearly 80 years. Infractions have happened from time to time over those many decades. By this late date, the District should have an easy-to-understand procedure that tells permit holders what will happen if they disobey the rules and a mechanism for quickly enforcing that procedure. But it does not. The board should act to solve this problem ASAP.

One seat on the District's seven-member board has been vacant for the past eight months (although one wonders why a state authority with a total of 18 full-time employees requires that many board members). Some of us continue to hope that it will be filled by a woman, breaking the ranks of what has become an old-boys' club.

Can't the Governor (who makes these appointments) find a qualified woman (preferably a Great Sacandaga Lake property owner) somewhere out there? On the other hand, as one of my cynical neighbors has commented, it's hard to believe that anyone would consider service on this embattled board as a real plus on her/his resume. (I know that you will be shocked, shocked to hear that some of the folks around the lake have grown a trifle cynical in recent years.)

The next meeting of the Hudson River-Black River Regulating District's board will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, October 12, 2011, at the Utica State Office Building, 207 Genesee Street, Utica, NY. The November meeting will be held in Ballston Spa and the December meeting in Watertown.

The lake is currently at 767 feet above sea level -- nearly 6 feet above target.