To the editor:
On Nov. 5, New York voters will be presented with six constitutional amendments on the ballot. While every amendment should be of interest to voters, propositions 4 and 5 are critically important to the Adirondacks. I strongly encourage every voter to be informed of the details pertaining to these amendments and then vote "YES" for both.
Proposition 4 will finally resolve property title disputes for more than 200 property owners in the hamlet of Raquette Lake in the town of Long Lake. These properties include the Raquette Lake school, fire department, public utilities, businesses and private property. The disputed titles are the result of tax sales dating back to the late 1800s, when the state purchased properties for back taxes. However, in most cases the taxes had been paid and the owners had receipts for payment. These tax sales were later ruled illegal by the Supreme Court in 1907 and upheld by the Court of Appeals in 1924. However, litigation is very expensive for both sides, and some court cases have languished for years. Furthermore, Article 14 of the state Constitution prevents the state from resolving this issue through any means other than litigation or a constitutional amendment.
Now, after several years of hard work by dedicated state Department of Environmental Conservation staff, elected officials and a core group representing the contested property owners, these property owners can realize that which every property owner should have: clear title to the property that they have owned and paid taxes on for years, and in some cases for generations. This amendment has broad support, ranging from state and local elected officials to environmental groups to organizations representing groups with diverse interests.
All agree this amendment is a win-win for all parties involved. For more information, including a detailed history, visit www.twp40.com.
Proposition 5 authorizes the state to exchange 200 acres of land with NYCO Minerals for 1,500 acres of land to be added to the Forest Preserve. These 200 acres will allow NYCO to continue mining in its current location, ensuring the company's viability and more than 100 jobs for 10 years. Like most areas within the Adirondack Park, every job is important. Consequently, this proposition is critically important to our neighbors in Lewis and Willsboro, where NYCO's mine and offices are located. When NYCO has completed mining the 200-acre lot, it will reclaim it and return it to the Forest Preserve.
Like Proposition 4, Proposition 5 has broad support and is a win-win for all involved. You can learn more about Proposition 5 at www.adirondacklandswap.com.
I encourage every New York voter to not only support both of these propositions but to help us get this message out to others by sharing this information with your family and friends.
Clark J. Seaman
Long Lake town supervisor