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Little asks local leaders to send APA picks to Cuomo

New governor could significantly reshape APA board

December 10, 2010
By CHRIS KNIGHT, Enterprise Senior Staff Writer

State Sen. Betty Little says she's asked local government leaders to come up with a list of names to submit to Gov.-elect Andrew Cuomo for available seats on the state Adirondack Park Agency Board of Commissioners.

Little had proposed legislation that would require the governor to select in-Park agency commissioners from a list of nominees compiled by the Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages, in collaboration with county legislators and supervisors. But the bill never made it out of committee.

Regardless, Little said Thursday that she's asked AATV members to assemble a list of potential nominees to the APA board for Cuomo to review.

Article Photos

Canoe maker Peter Hornbeck's nomination to the APA Board of Commissioners now appears to be dead.
(Enterprise file photo)

"We have legislation that would require a list from them, but we don't even have to wait for that legislation," she said. "We can put forward and suggest names, since there's a number of appointments whose terms are already up. I think there needs to be more input from the local municipalities, and we need to participate in the process."

AATV President Brian Towers said the group is working to develop a list of potential nominees from throughout the Park for Cuomo to consider.

"We're just trying to look for people with diverse backgrounds - people who have experience in business, planning, civil engineering or other fields," said Towers, who is the supervisor of the town of Wells. "I have a great deal of respect of the people there now, but I think we're just trying to get a better mixture."

During the Pataki administration, Towers said AATV was given the opportunity to meet with candidates for the APA board and make recommendations, but that hasn't happened since Pataki left office.

The makeup of the APA board could be reshaped dramatically under Cuomo, as the four-year terms of a total of five agency commissioners have expired or will be ending by the middle of next year. It's too soon to know whether Cuomo will seek new nominees for those seats or reappoint those who want to continue serving on the agency board.

The term of Commissioner Arthur Lussi, who holds one of the five in-Park seats on the APA board, expired in June of last year. The seats held by in-Park Commissioner William Thomas and out-of-Park Commissioner Cecil Wray ran out in June of this year. The terms of current APA Chairman Curt Stiles and Commissioner Frank Mezzano, both of whom hold in-Park seats, will expire in June 2011.

In what proved to be a controversial nomination, Olmstedville boatmaker Peter Hornbeck was picked this year by Gov. David Paterson to fill Lussi's seat, but that appointment now appears to be dead.

The state Senate Finance Committee met Tuesday to consider a pair of Paterson's nominations, but Hornbeck's appointment, which had been approved in February by the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee, wasn't on the committee's agenda. It also wasn't considered last week when the Finance Committee met and approved a half-dozen Paterson nominees to various agencies and authorities.

Little, R-Queensbury, told the Enterprise Thursday that she doesn't think there's any chance Hornbeck's nomination will move forward, especially as Republicans appear to have regained the majority in the Senate.

"I don't think it is going anywhere," she said. "When you're in the majority, you certainly will have more input. But even last year, the Democrat leadership listened to our reasons, and I had several Democratic senators who agreed with me."

Little and local government groups in the Park had raised concerns about Hornbeck's ties to environmental groups - he's a former chairman of the Residents' Committee to the Protect the Adirondacks and had been a member of Protect the Adirondacks! board - and his public opposition to the Adirondack Club and Resort project in Tupper Lake, which is currently on the APA's plate. Instead, Little supported keeping Lussi, a Lake Placid hotelier, on the board because of his pro-business stance.

Hornbeck had argued that he's both an environmentalist and a business person, a maker and seller of canoes.

"I think that's why people wanted me to be an APA commissioner, because I can see both sides," he told the Enterprise in June. "I can understand the need for balance in the APA, and I think I can bring balance because I'm not a doctrine environmentalist. I have other interests. I spent probably 5 percent of my time in environmental matters and the other 95 percent of my time in business matters."

Hornbeck told North Country Public Radio this week that he didn't know what was happening with his nomination.

"As far as I know, it's still alive," he said. "I don't know the mechanics of things, but I haven't been given any indication otherwise. It does look a little grim at this point because of potential future Republican leadership in the Senate."

Hornbeck also said he's had no contact with anyone on Cuomo's transition team.

"None," he said. "I've got calls in to people. I haven't heard anything back. I'm still waiting."

Lussi, who was appointed by Pataki in June 2006, told WNBZ radio this week that he hopes he can secure another term. He said he hasn't actively lobbied for his reappointment, but said he may reach out to Cuomo's representatives to tell them he'd like to remain on the board.

In addition to the eight commissioners appointed by the governor, the 11-member APA board includes designees from the departments of Environmental Conservation, State and Economic Development.


Contact Chris Knight at 891-2600 ext. 24 or



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