The Adirondack Park Agency Board of Commissioners met today at their headquarters in Ray Brook. I've posted below portions of the text from Jon Alexander's story regarding the fire towers on St. Regis and Hurricane mountains (the full story will air tomorrow and appear on the website, too):
Adirondack Park Agency commissioners directed agency staff Thursday to find a way to let the fire towers remain atop St. Regis and Hurricane mountains – provided that a non-taxpayer-based funding source for their upkeep can be found.
Located in a state-owned Primitive and Canoe areas, both towers are considered non-conforming structures under the current draft of the State Land Master Plan.
But considering the public’s affinity for the federally recognized historic structures, commissioners like Dick Booth were torn between the requirements of the SLMP and the preservation of the region’s cultural history.
“The big part of me says, look this is a decision that was made decades ago when the SLMP was crafted and we should finish doing what has been left undone for a long time,” Booth said. “But a part of me also says the towers are there, they are historic and although they have an impact on the wilderness character, it is certainly a bearable impact.”
But for Commissioner Art Lussi, the question of the towers’ continued existence is a little more cut and dry.
“We need to find a way to preserve them and there’s no easy option,” Lussi said. “But that’s my position. We need to find an option to preserve the towers as they sit.”
The Adirondack Local Government Review Board petitioned the agency to find an alternative to their removal, but according to a staff report, each and every method of legally attaining this goal will be time consuming and complicated.
Commissioner Lani Ulrich stressed that doing things right supersedes doing things quickly.
“The number of years that it will take to get it right doesn’t bother me,” Ulrich said. “I don’t like things taking forever, but I’d like to get it right.”
Commissioners directed agency staff to find the most legally viable choice of three options that would allow for the continued presence of the fire towers in their historic locations. Officials said each would have an impact on the SLMP itself, ranging from creating small historic parcels to an outright amendment that would make the towers conforming in Wilderness and Primitive areas.
Officials said each option is relatively complex – but doable.