Responding to the Guest Commentary by Dick Beamish in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise on Sept. 1, 2011, defining what qualifies as a "bum rap" for the APA:
A bum rap is what Mother Nature inflicted on the east coast of the United States in August. A bum rap is also what the New York State Legislature foisted on a selected area of people inside an arbitrary Blue Line and named it the Adirondack Park Agency almost 40 years ago.
Dick Beamish has been touting the APA manifesto that the public interest is best served by sectarian groups such as environmentalists and bureaucrats, who often function contrary to public preference and the greater principles of equal protection under the law and representative government. I do not agree with him, and he is definitely wrong when he tries to attribute devious motives to a sincere group of people who have dissenting opinions with the APA.
In the 1970s, peaceful protesting came of age in the Adirondacks when a big blue furniture van lettered on both sides with the message, "ABOLISH ADIRONDACK PARK AGENCY" appeared in front of the town hall in Saranac Lake, where the "enemies of the people" gathered inside to instruct the residents about their proposed new APA law.
It heralded the righteous indignation of country folks against a state government in Albany for creating an agency with tremendous powers, granted with virtually no local public input but with the cooperation of at least five national environmental lobbies in support of it, as a bum rap for the Adirondackers. Clearly, when the APA first decreed that on 50 percent of the private building land in the Adirondacks you must own 42 acres to build ONE new home on it, that was a positive indication that the locals should remain as shadows in the woods and accept another bum rap graciously, and be prepared for more.
When a state agency made false and inflammatory statements, like the bulldozers were on the edge of the Blue Line ready to devastate the Adirondacks, and when the APA killed the first submission for approval to them for a resort complex offering economic benefits at Loon Lake, it was no longer just rhetoric. Their message was loud and clear, and to stay in control they assumed they had to harass mom-and-pop builders, ridiculously tried to insist the colors of new homes should be Adirondack brown, and placed petty impediments upon permits that virtually rendered them useless to the owners. They even ignored the safety of the Adirondacks when they had the fire towers removed as well as some old, established hiking trails, and even tent platform camps enjoyed by the natives were demolished.
When it was announced by the APA that the state could not afford to purchase the land in the Adirondacks that it wanted to control, its method of doing so was to implement "THE USE OF THE NEW GOVERNMENTAL LAWS, RULES, REGULATIONS AND PROGRAMS TO ACHIEVE THIS GOAL." Not exactly the same property rights the rest of the state enjoys. And I am proud to say our big blue van conveyed that message to the residents inside the Blue Line, sometimes with our then-teenage son at the wheel. Later when we learned these speak-outs were referred to by the tree huggers and APA as dog-and-pony shows only mandated to cover their agenda, it was very disheartening, not to mention humiliating, to the people in the Adirondacks that they put in jeopardy.
In the Beamish article, he writes, "It's pretty clear what the APA critics have in mind. They hope to convince Governor Cuomo that the APA is an oppressive, abusive, overzealous state agency that is stifling free enterprise." I couldn't have said it better, but I am surprised he, too, recognizes this. But we did not have to tell it to Gov. Andrew Cuomo. We think he already knew this when he suspended APA and DEC permitting for Tropical Storm Irene recovery and reconstruction, and we thank him for his help.
APA is on a slippery slope, as well it should be, but its enemy is more within its compound than a few faithful and knowledgeable APA protestors who showed up at a recent public meeting. As the youth of the day would say, power to the people, and that includes the Adirondackers who got a bum rap.
Audrey Casier lives in Saranac Lake.