To the editor:
Vote YES for Proposition 4 on Nov. 5. Since the 1800s, Adirondack land titles in "Township 40" in Hamilton County's town of Long Lake, hamlet of Raquette Lake, have been confused by conflicting claims amongst the state and both public and private owners including the school, firehouse, waste transfer station, utility station, marina, businesses and homes - 216 parcels in all.
Litigation has been expensive and generally unproductive for the state. All parties would prefer to settle these issues out of court. However, the New York State Constitution requires a constitutional amendment to permit the state's release of any claim to Adirondack land. Both houses of the state Legislature have unanimously approved this amendment, and Proposition 4 will appear on the back of November's ballot for voter ratification. In exchange for the benefits of full ownership, property owners would pay the state a fee equal to a portion of their assessed value. The state would then use the funds to buy more than 200 acres of wild, forested land, add that land to the Adirondack Forest Preserve and protect it from development and forestry.
It is important to note that no title search now or ever shows any claim to any title in Township 40 by the state of New York. Taxes have been paid, lands have been bought and sold, and deeds have been recorded. The question of "contested" titles needs to be resolved so that the rightful owners, whose families have lived with this injustice for more than 100 years, can have the quiet enjoyment of their property, a freedom guaranteed by this great country of ours.