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Disturbing trend in APA boathouse restrictions

RAY BROOK - Although not entirely opposed to all proposed Adirondack Park Agency restrictions to the size, height and uses of boathouses inside the Blue Line, local officials say they're worried that the new regulations represent another example of the agency seeking to inappropriately expand its jurisdiction.

Historically exempt from APA oversight, boathouses have typically been defined and regulated by local municipalities. But with the APA's new proposal to exert control, local officials see the move as an erosion of local authority.

Adirondack Local Government Review Board Executive Director Fred Monroe, said Jan. 6 the APA has ramped up their efforts to increase the scope of its oversight.

"It seems to us they are trying to expand jurisdiction in a unique way," Monroe said.

Despite his concerns over ever-increasing government control, Monroe said that some of the proposed regulations - like limiting the footprint of boathouses to 900 square feet and eliminating plumbing - do make some environmental sense.

But when it comes to a provision in the regulations that would eliminate second-story decks above boathouses - a common summertime party spot for revelers and sunbathers - Monroe wonders if the agency just wants to enact a "buzz kill," or merely spoil people's enjoyable times.

"There should be no fun had in the Adirondacks, so they are going to police it," Monroe said. "The fun police."

In efforts to remake the image of the park and cultivate an annual base of monied tourists, local chambers of commerce, regional tourism development organizations and governments have focused recently on creating a "family-friendly" ambiance and tame visitor's experience in the Park, some observers have said.

Last spring, the Adirondack North Country Association released a state survey that found that the majority of tourists in the Adirondacks are wealthy baby-boomers, looking for a plush yet superficially rustic experience.

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