Diverse groups say DEC's fire tower idea a 'cop out'

RAY BROOK - Groups on both sides of the contentious issue of whether or not to save historic Adirondack fire towers aren't pleased with a plan proposed by Adirondack Park Agency staff that could see the structures remain standing for a while - at least until they decay further.

Park Agency staff recently recommended APA commissioners adopt a plan that would allow the towers atop Hurricane and St. Regis mountains to stay where they sit - but the initiative also bans any future rehabilitation.

The plan would all but doom the towers at some point as they would have to be removed once the 90-year-old structures become unsafe.

Dan Plumley of Friends of the Forest Preserve said APA staffers are just ducking the issue.

"For the most part, they are choosing to punt the question required by the state Land Master Plan to remove the towers, which has been on the table since 1973," he said. "They don't want to go there, which is too bad. So they end up suggesting a middle-of-the-road decision that doesn't get them to implement the requirements of the SLMP and doesn't make those who want to restore the towers very happy."

Like many environmentalists, Plumley noted the towers are in direct conflict with the State Land Master Plan. The plan would create tiny one-quarter acre Primitive areas around the base of each tower, he said.

"If they allow dilapidated metal structures to be considered appropriate within a Wilderness area through spot zoning, how will they disallow the proposals for 400 foot wind towers on private land?" Plumley said.

Primitive areas are typically a step toward the Wilderness designation and contemplate the removal of non-conforming structures.

The proposal would allow the towers to stay where they now stand until they deteriorate so badly they pose a public hazard.

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