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Area officials anticipate new debate over Park's Master Plan

RAY BROOK - The controversial State Land Master Plan - the basis of almost all regulatory decisions that occur in the Adirondacks - is now up for revision, and officials of both local government and environmental organizations said this week that the time has come to begin a discussion that has been anticipated for years.

Adirondack Local Government Review Board Director Fred Monroe said the time has come for the Adirondack Park Agency, local governments and environmental groups to jointly hash out their differences and create a document that works for everyone.

Monroe said the Review Board would like to see greater consultation with local governments on issues concerning their communities, particularly state land purchases.

"Local government has a better idea of what's happening on the ground," he said. "On the Finch, Pruyn land deal the state did consult with local government and it turned out better than it would have."

Monroe said that in that land deal, the town of Newcomb acquired about 1,000 acres for the development of affordable housing.

With towns like Arietta in Hamilton County being composed of over 90 percent state land, the expansion of Forever Wild lands is threatening the existence of numerous Adirondack communities, local officials say.

Monroe said a greater recognition of the Park's human element - especially the needs of the residents - is the primary change that needs to be made.

"Over the years, both sides have been afraid to reopen the State Land Master Plan because the fear is it's going to be even worse than it already is," he said. "But the end result is these tortured interpretations in trying to arrive at something that makes some semblance of sense."

Monroe said there needs to be acknowledgement of historic structures - like fire towers and swinging bridges -and that the veto power of local governments over land acquisitions needs to be given some teeth.

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