2017-11-01 / Front Page

To the Editor by Rich Cafiero

No matter where you vote in New York State this Election Day, you will be asked to decide on three ballot proposals. Two are controversial, with large numbers of people on both sides of the issues. Ballot Proposal #3 has no controversy. It simply helps make communities in the Adirondacks and Catskills safer for residents and visitors. It makes so much sense, in fact, the New York League of Women Voters says it hasn’t found any groups opposed.

Here’s the story: The Adirondacks and Catskills are home to vast amounts of Forest Preserve. This is land that is protected by the state Constitution as Forever Wild, which means nothing can be built there, and no trees can be cut. But not all of this land is remote wilderness. Much of it sits right alongside roads and bridges and other developed areas. This poses a problem for local communities when the only way to straighten a dangerous road, replace a failing bridge or install broadband or other important infrastructure is to intrude on a small piece of Preserve. In order to do so, the community must obtain a constitutional amendment allowing use of the land — a process that takes at least two years.

Ballot Proposal #3 will allow the state to add 250 acres of land to the Forest Preserve and allow Adirondack and Catskill communities to remove a total of 250 existing acres over a period of years without the burden of a constitutional amendment when public health and safety projects can’t be completed otherwise. Local governments, environmental groups, business organizations and recreational enthusiasts all support it.

At a time when common-sense is so often in short supply, Ballot Proposal #3 makes perfect sense. Please vote Yes for the Adirondacks and Catskills on Nov. 7.

Rich Cafiero

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