New York Towns Ponder Campground Operations
The possibility of having Warren County or the town of Lake George, N.Y., operate the island campgrounds on Lake George instead of the state of New York was raised Wednesday (Oct. 6), the Glens Falls Post-Star reported.
County supervisors learned that the Adirondack Council had reached out to local government leaders in the region to discuss the possibility of local operation of state facilities.
Fred Monroe, the Chester supervisor who is chairman of the Warren County Board of Supervisors, briefed his fellow supervisors Wednesday on communications he received recently from Brian Houseal, executive director of the Adirondack Council, seeking to organize a meeting on the issue.
Monroe said he believed Warren County's leaders should take part in such a meeting, so municipalities can prepare for the possibility that the state will have a new list of campgrounds and day use areas it won't open next year.
Last May, the DEC announced that it wouldn't reopen portions of a number of popular state-owned day use areas and campgrounds, including Scaroon Manor Day Use Area in Chester and Schroon, Moose River Plains in Hamilton County and an access road to Sleeping Beauty Mountain in Fort Ann.
That left officials scrambling to try to find ways to convince the state to reopen the areas.
Monroe said Warren County leaders want to be proactive, in case more cuts are contemplated that could threaten attractions like the campgrounds on Lake George that provide economic benefits to the region.
"We don't want to be in the position next Memorial Day where the state says, ‘Oops, we don't have the money for these facilities,'" Monroe said. "We need to have a plan, something to make sure these facilities keep operating."
He said the state has acknowledged it makes money from the island campsites on Lake George.
"I think local governments can do this more efficiently and less expensively than the state can," Monroe said.
Hague Supervisor Dan Belden said his main concern would be whether the county would assume liability for any problems that occur on state land it operates.
Houseal was not available for comment Wednesday. John Sheehan, a spokesman for the Adirondack Council, said there was "nothing formal" in the works but pointed out that local governments have taken over operation of some DEC-run properties in recent months.
Earlier this year, the town of Caroga Lake took over a state campground on Caroga Lake, and Hamilton County leaders assisted in reopening the Moose River Plains Road into the popular wilderness area.
Sheehan compared the idea to the state's "adopt-a-natural-resource" stewardship program, and said that local governments need to be prepared to deal with budget issues.
"I think we need to remain vigilant," he said.
State spokesman David Winchell said it is too early to say what, if any partnerships, will be sought by the state in the future. But he said the state is interested in talking about partnering with municipalities.
"Those discussions haven't occurred but they most likely will in the future," Winchell said.