Avoiding Greece in New York

One of the major factors dragging down the Greek economy is its large inventory of non-performing private property. Only now, when faced with extreme cutbacks is the government starting to put some of its $500 billion inventory on the market.

What does that say to New York State? Get serious now about selling state-owned property that is not essential to the public welfare. That should include selling marketable state land in the Adirondacks that is not essential to protecting the environment and that would benefit the region’s economy.

The goal of purchasing more and more land in the Adirondacks has little to do with protecting the environment – despite claims of groups like the Adirondack Council. Instead it’s all about political power – who gets to make decisions – Albany or the local community – and at whose expense.

The end result of land purchases is that many Adirondack communities are not economically viable. The latest census reports declining populations throughout the region. Young people move out as soon as they can because there are no jobs for them and even if there were, there is no affordable housing for them to live in. The fact that there is a finite amount of lakefront property also limits the opportunities for middle class families south of the Park to purchase summer homes.

Instead of buying more land the state should be selling land such as the northwest shore of Sacandaga Lake (not to be confused with the “Great” Sacandaga Lake). Hamilton County needs to expand its tax base. Adding 10 or 20 more properties on the shore would help the County and aid local businesses as well. There are no environmental reasons for keeping that land in state hands.

There is one property on the west side of Sacandaga Lake that the state is going to take back from a 99-year leaseholder when the current resident dies. This is an example of government imperialism – using state power to quash citizen rights. The descendents of the current owner should either be allowed to up the current lease or the state should put that property on the market. Again, there is no environmental justification for taking that land.

If it takes a constitutional amendment to end the tyranny of state land ownership in the Adirondacks, then so be it. That’s just one more reason to hold a constitutional convention before 2017.

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