PROTECT supports First Passage of Article 14 Amendment for Camp Gabriels state prison complex
Protect the Adirondacks supports the proposed amendment to Article 14, Section 1, the “forever wild” clause of the New York State Constitution, authorizing the sale of 92 acres of a former prison compound known as Camp Gabriels in the Town of Brighton, Franklin County in the Adirondack Park (S.27 Stec/A.2486 Jones). This property was formerly a tuberculosis sanatorium and an annex to a private college prior to conversion to a state prison. Occupied by two dozen buildings, these lands possess no important open space, natural resource, or public recreation value.
Over 200 acres of State-owned forestlands surrounding the 92-acre prison complex, which were part of State’s original purchase, were reclassified by the Adirondack Park Agency from a “State Administrative” classification to a “Wild Forest” classification and will remain part of the Forest Preserve.
This amendment is necessary for the proposed sale of the Camp Gabriels property because all State-owned and utilized lands in the Forest Preserve counties of the Adirondack Park are Forest Preserve lands. Consequently, the lands are protected by the Constitution’s “Forever Wild” clause and cannot be sold or leased without a constitutional amendment. This amendment passed the Senate in 2022.
Protect the Adirondacks supported a prior version of this amendment that would have transferred these lands to area local governments for a variety of public purposes. We still believe that’s a better use of this facility than sale to a private owner. Unfortunately, that effort does not enjoy support from either the Executive or from enough local government leaders in the Franklin County. Given this reality, removal from the Forest Preserve and sale of these lands is the only viable option to provide a new use for the property. Protect the Adirondacks supports the amendment’s requirements that the sale must be approved by the Legislature and that all proceeds from the sale may be used only for acquisition of lands to be added to the Forest Preserve. We also support the provision to allow the Town of Brighton to utilize the water treatment facilities to help local residents whose wells were damaged by road salt pollution.
The proposed amendment should be accompanied by enabling legislation that provides important details about the implementation of the amendment that the public must know. We believe that first passage of a proposed Article 14 constitutional amendment must always include passage of accompanying enabling legislation.
Passage of this amendment is important for the Town of Brighton and for the economic and community development of the area. This legislation constitutes “first passage” of a new Constitutional Amendment. “Second passage” would take place in the first year of the next successive Legislature, in 2025. This amendment would then need to be approved by the voters in November of 2025.
PROTECT supports First Passage of Article 14 Amendment for Mt Van Hoevenberg Winter Sports Complex lands
Protect the Adirondacks supports the proposed amendment to Article 14, Section 1, the “forever wild” clause of the New York State Constitution, retroactively authorizing development of certain facilities on the 1,220-acre Mount Van Hoevenberg Olympic Sports Complex near Lake Placid in the Adirondack Park. The Mount Van Hoevenberg complex is a state-owned and operated facility managed by the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) and is located on the constitutionally protected Forest Preserve. The lands occupied by the complex are classified as “Intensive Use” by the Adirondack Park Agency. The complex also includes 319 acres of adjoining land owned by the Town of North Elba. The complex includes the Olympic bobsled and luge track, cross-country skiing and biathlon trails, and associated facilities.
The proposed amendment is accompanied by enabling legislation (S.5333/A.2450) that provides important details about the implementation of the amendment. We believe that first passage of a proposed Article 14 constitutional amendment must always include passage of accompanying enabling legislation.
The amendment authorizes the State to utilize 323 acres of Forest Preserve lands in the Mount Van Hoevenberg complex for a variety of winter sports activities and facilities, including trails, buildings, water lines, and parking lots. The amendment exempts the subject lands from the constitutional tree-cutting prohibition that applies to the Forest Preserve. The amendment requires that as an offset the State must acquire at least 2,500 acres of land for inclusion in the Forest Preserve in the Adirondack Park, subject to approval by the Legislature that the lands are equal to or greater in value than the Forest Preserve lands authorized for development.
Protect the Adirondacks believes that the proposed amendment is necessary to retroactively authorize previously unlawful and unconstitutional development at the Mount Van Hoevenberg complex. The current expansion of the Mount Van Hoevenberg complex, utilizing hundreds of millions of State funds, requires that action be taken immediately to bring this facility into compliance with the Forever Wild clause.