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County board OKs proposed land trade with state to keep Debar Lodge

Debar Pond Lodge is seen in April 2017 in the town of Duane. (Enterprise photo — Justin A. Levine)

MALONE — The Franklin County legislature on Thursday unanimously supported a proposed land trade with the state, involving about 300 acres, in order to preserve Debar Lodge.

The historical site, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was bought by the state in 1979.

Officials of the town of Duane, as well as county officials believe the site to have “great potential as a cultural, education and recreational resource for the local area of the Adirondack North Country region.”

Debar Pond Institution, a nonprofit educational organization, is planning to enter into a land exchange agreement with the state, where New York would receive 300 acres of land in exchange for 6 acres of land. These 6 acres would include Debar Lodge.

Officials believe the proposed land trade would preserve the historic structures at the lodge while providing a tourist-like area that could contribute to the local economy.

Saving the lodge could also enhance perseverance of the state forest, without costing the state expenses involving demolition and new construction, officials said.

The Duane town board last month voted in support of the proposed land exchange.

The motion passed with support of four members, with Rita Gordon being the sole member who voted against the proposed trade.

Prior to the vote, town Councilman Gary Cring suggested a provision addition to the resolution that would ensure recreational opportunity developments at the site.

A 2020 state management plan involving Debar Pond called for the removal of the lodge, in favor of a new day-use area.

Debar Lodge was built in 1939 by Adirondack architect William Distin, Executive Director Steven Engelhart of Adirondack Architectural Heritage of Keeseville said.

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