Legislation aims to end state authority over old Adirondacks roads

The focus in Albany these days is Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposed budget for fiscal year 2011-12.

And while most lawmakers are busy grappling with potential cuts to education and health care, some are still looking at resolving local and regional issues.

Last week, North Country Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward reintroduced legislation that would give town highway superintendents in the Adirondack Park final authority over the status of old town roads.

The question of who has the authority to declare old town roads inside the Blue Line abandoned is central to the Old Mountain Road case - which dates back several years and is back in the spotlight again.

Late last year, the acting commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Conservation - Peter Iwanowicz - ruled that the DEC, APA, and the Adirondack Council could seek further clarification on a May 2009 ruling handed down by then-Commissioner Pete Grannis.

Two years ago, Grannis ruled that Jim McCulley of Lake Placid did not violate state environmental law when he drove his pickup truck and his snowmobile along Old Mountain Road, which runs along Forest Preserve lands between the towns of North Elba and Keene.

According to Grannis, the road was never officially incorporated into the Forest Preserve and technically never declared as abandoned by either township.

Environmental officials and green groups have challenged that ruling, and have since been allowed to file legal briefings seeking clarification of the Grannis decision.

Those legal briefings have no bearing on the outcome of McCulley's case.

But as state officials parse through these new arguments regarding the 2009 ruling, Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward is attempting to change current state law in order to avoid future, similar cases.

Last week, Sayward reintroduced legislation that would give town highway superintendents inside the park final say on whether or not town roads are, in fact, abandoned.

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