The Adirondack Mountain Club is the latest environmental organization to come out in support of a constitutional amendment that would settle the land-claim dispute in Raquette Lake.
"We supported this because it is a way to clear up the legal dispute," ADK Executive Director Neil Woodworth said. "It makes a lot more sense to clean up this legal mess with a constitutional amendment that in effect settles the dispute."
The dispute dates back to the 19th century and stems from both the state of New York and private parties claiming ownership of the same properties, which total about 215 parcels. The private parties include individuals, the fire department, a public school, businesses and a utility company.
The constitutional amendment would allow the Raquette Lake property owners to give the state about $625,000 that it could put toward the purchase of property for the Adirondack Forest Preserve. The property would be purchased with the help of a third party, which would contribute toward the cost of the purchase.
In return, the Raquette Lake landowners would receive clear titles of land ownership once the state purchases the Forest Preserve.
Because the state claims the land is Forest Preserve, the deal requires a constitutional amendment that would need to be approved in the Senate and Assembly twice, with an election between the votes. Then the constitutional amendment would be put on an election ballot and go before the voters of the entire state.
The parties are hoping to get it passed by both houses this month, then again early next year, so it could be put on the ballot in November 2013.
The bills were introduced to the Assembly and Senate earlier this week. In the Assembly, the bill was passed unanimously by the Environmental Conservation Committee and is now before the Ways and Means Committee. In the Senate, it is currently before the Rules Committee.
Members of Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve and the Adirondack Council told the Enterprise last week their organizations support the amendment.