To the editor:
Tucked among the six statewide propositions on the back of the Nov. 5 ballot is Proposition No. 4. This proposed amendment to the state Constitution will settle conflicting title claims to 216 parcels of land in Raquette Lake. (The name Raquette Lake does not appear in the proposition wording, but the lands at issue are in Raquette Lake, within Township 40 of the town of Long Lake.)
More than 100 years ago, a chain of bureaucratic errors led to the land claim dispute between the state and property owners. The dispute persists to this day. These properties include private homes and businesses, as well as the Raquette Lake school, firehouse, waste transfer station, utility station and marina.
We have been good stewards of our property and we have paid our taxes – in some cases since before the turn of the 20th century. But we have never had the security of clear title and we have always feared that our land would be taken from us.
Your Yes vote on Prop. No. 4 will permit the state to settle the Township 40 claims and clear local land titles. In exchange, the affected land owners will provide funding the state will use to purchase land – likely the Marion River Carry – and open that land for public recreation while protecting it from development. There is no cost to taxpayers elsewhere in the state.
Prop. 4 represents 10 years of work by state legislators, Hamilton County legislators and officials, town of Long Lake officials, Adirondack environmental groups and private citizens. The enabling legislation passed unanimously in the state Senate and Assembly. Prop. 4 has the support of the Adirondack Mountain Club, the Adirondack Council, Protect the Adirondacks, the League of Conservation Voters, other environmental groups and business groups, and many, many individuals who love the Adirondacks.
Please remember to turn your ballot over and vote Yes to resolve these land claims and protect the forested acres along the Marion River.
Betsy A. Baker