Former Governor Pataki Among Bipartisan Group of Government, Environmental Leaders Supporting Ballot Proposal #3

October 16, 2017

Former New York Governor George E. Pataki is among a bipartisan group of former federal and state officials and environmental leaders who are encouraging voter support for Ballot Proposal #3, creating the Public Health and Safety Land Account, on the Nov. 7 statewide ballot.

If approved by voters, Ballot Proposal #3 will eliminate the need for Adirondack and Catskill communities to obtain a state constitutional amendment any time they want to undertake road maintenance, utility installation and bicycle path creation projects that require the use of small portions of state Forest Preserve land. This is a prolonged and costly process that is not required in communities outside those areas. The Proposal will also allow public utilities, including broadband, to be installed within the widths of roads that cross Forest Preserve land.

Joining Gov. Pataki, who owns a home in the Adirondacks, in supporting Ballot Proposal #3 are:

  • Bill Owens, former U.S. Congressman;
  • John M. McHugh, former U.S. Congressman and Secretary of the Army;
  • Chris Gibson, former U.S. Congressman;
  • Richard L. Brodsky, former New York State Assemblyman;
  • John P. Cahill, former state Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner;
  • Dr. Ross S. Whaley, former Adirondack Park Agency Chairman;
  • Peter S. Paine Jr., former Adirondack Park Agency Commissioner;
  • Elizabeth W. Thorndike, former Adirondack Park Agency Commissioner and current member of the Board of Directors of the Adirondack Research Consortium;
  • Stuart Gruskin, Chief Conservation and External Affairs Officer at The Nature Conservancy in New York State, and former Executive Deputy Commissioner at NYSDEC;
  • Frances Beinecke, former President of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

 

The Adirondack and Catskill Parks include millions of acres of forever-wild state Forest Preserve land. The Forest Preserve is an incredible environmental and economic asset for local communities, drawing visitors from around the world and providing unparalleled recreational and scenic experiences for those who make their homes there.

But the “forever wild” classification, for all its good, also brings challenges to local communities when it comes to public health and safety improvements. For example, state law does not currently allow public utilities, including broadband, to be placed under roads that cross state Forest Preserve land. Ballot Proposal #3 will change that. In addition, in many places, state Forest Preserve land borders local and state highways. Any time a community needs to use a portion of that land to straighten a dangerous road, replace a culvert to prevent floods, create a safer bike path, drill a water supply well or install other critical infrastructure, the state Constitution has to be amended to allow the project. This is, at minimum, a two-year process, requiring approvals by two successively elected state legislatures and a statewide referendum.

Proposition 3 removes this dangerous bureaucratic obstacle by allowing the state to create a “Land Bank” of 250 acres that Adirondack and Catskill communities could draw upon — without need for a constitutional amendment — when they have no other option but to use Forest Preserve land for these projects.

Ballot Proposal #3 has won the support of a diverse array of local governments, environmental advocacy organizations, business groups and recreational enthusiasts. Additionally, the League of Women Voters in New York State has said that it has not found any groups opposing the proposal. 

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