Views differ on Glenview Preserve

The Adirondack Land Trust’s Glenview Preserve is seen from the state Route 86 pull-off in October 2022. (Enterprise photo — Lauren Yates)

SARANAC LAKE — The Adirondack Land Trust’s proposal to develop a parking lot and accessible trails at the Glenview Preserve, a 238-acre stretch of land along state Route 86 in Harrietstown, has drawn both support and criticism as the land trust prepares to move forward with project assessment and permitting.

The Adirondack Land Trust, or ALT, wants to develop 3.4 miles of accessible trails at the preserve, with overlooks for birdwatching, painting and photography within the preserve as well as a parking area, a shelter for portable toilets and a pavilion near Route 86. The land trust has publicized its intentions to evaluate the land for public access ever since ALT purchased the preserve from the Trevor family in 2016, according to ALT Director of Communications Connie Prickett.

ALT and supporters of the project see the development as a way to provide a more accessible Adirondack experience than people often find in the state-owned Forest Preserve, potentially making the area wheelchair- and stroller-accessible, while still preserving land for wildlife. They also believe a distinct parking lot at the preserve could ease years of traffic safety concerns related to the preserve’s unofficial pulloff, located in a 55 mph speed zone on Route 86 near the Harrietstown Cemetery. Drivers often stop there to take photographs of the scenic vista, which includes views of Whiteface Mountain and the MacKenzie range.

But a group of neighbors who live by the Glenview Preserve are staunchly opposed to the project, saying the development could drive down their property values, drive away wildlife, and bring in more crowds of people and, with those crowds, more security and environmental issues to the neighborhood.

Prickett believes that “most people are definitely interested in some kind of public access at Glenview Preserve.” That’s based on 75 online survey responses and responses from more than 40 people who attended ALT’s second and final public feedback session last week, which Prickett said were mostly supportive of the project.

Howard Riley, a neighbor of the Glenview Preserve in Harrietstown who opposes the Adirondack Land Trust’s proposal for public access at the preserve, smiles with his wife Ruth at their home on Friday. (Enterprise photo — Lauren Yates)

“The general consensus is that it’s an incredible view that enhances quality of life,” she said. “We have an opportunity to make it accessible.”

According to people who attended last week’s feedback session — as well as the Enterprise’s interviews with multiple people who are acquainted with ALT’s proposal — the public’s level of support for development at Glenview seems split between two types of people: those who live near the preserve and those who don’t.

The ALT currently manages the Glenview Preserve for pollinator and wildlife habitat, water quality protection and maple syrup production. The preserve would need to be assessed for its ability to support ALT’s development plans before construction could begin, according to Prickett. The preserve is in a state Adirondack Park Agency resource management zone, so ALT would have to meet certain management standards and apply for any construction permits through the APA. ALT is also considering asking the state Department of Transportation to lower the speed limit for the stretch of Route 86 that runs along the preserve, according to Prickett. But first, Prickett said ALT plans to refine its development plans based on public feedback from the online survey and in-person workshops.

“Design and infrastructure will be informed by the feedback,” Prickett said.

Charlie Martin, an Onchiota resident who supports the Adirondack Land Trust’s proposal for public access at the Glenview Preserve, smiles at the Mountain Mudfest in Saranac Lake on Saturday. (Enterprise photo — Lauren Yates)

Two sides

Howard Riley, a lifelong resident of the Saranac Lake area and a 20-year neighbor of the Glenview Preserve, is opposed to ALT’s proposal. ALT staff made the effort to visit neighbors of the preserve to discuss the project before hosting feedback sessions last week and this past October. At the time, Riley said he liked initial talks of modest development. But Riley, as well as some other Glenview neighbors interviewed by the Enterprise, believes ALT’s latest plans for Glenview are “an abuse of what we thought their intention was,” Riley said.

Preserve neighbor Michael Orticelle is concerned that pedestrian traffic at Glenview could increase as a result of the proposed parking lot, which he said “shocked” neighbors at last week’s feedback session. While a conceptual design plan showed a parking lot with more than 20 parking spots, Prickett said the design wasn’t meant to be taken literally. Still, Orticelle is concerned that the lot and trails could invite more people, noise and garbage to the preserve and his neighborhood.

Riley is concerned that neighboring property values could drop as a result of development. He’s worried that the development could increase visitor traffic and make surrounding properties less desirable. He’s also worried that developing Glenview could drive away the wildlife he and his neighbors have come to cherish.

Adirondack Land Trust Stewardship and GIS Specialist Becca Halter, right, talks about the ALT’s Glenview Preserve, located next to the Harrietstown Cemetery on state Route 86, with preserve neighbor Eileen Jauch, left, and ALT Executive Director Mike Carr, center left, in October 2022. (Enterprise photo — Lauren Yates)

Several neighbors of the preserve have also pointed to the Bloomingdale Bog Trail and Paul Smith College’s VIC as accessible trails nearby. Neighbors are asking: Why create trails at the Glenview Preserve when comparable trails are just a few minutes’ drive away?

Charlie Martin, an Onchiota resident who lived in Saranac Lake for around 30 years, supports ALT’s Glenview proposal. He’s an avid backcountry skier, and he believes it’s important to make trails that are accessible to people who can’t access a backcountry experience. He believes neighbors’ claims that development at Glenview could increase visitor traffic and noise are “unfounded.” Martin said the VIC shouldn’t be compared to ALT’s proposed plans for Glenview because ALT’s trails would be free to the public.

The VIC charges people to ski and snowshoe along its 25 miles of trails in the winter, but the VIC’s trails are free for hikers in the summer. The Bloomingdale Bog trail is free to access year-round.

Martin Rowley, a Saranac Lake resident and supporter of ALT’s proposal, said he likes the idea of creating more trails that are welcoming to visitors. He said it would be nice to have more casual trails like those at Heaven Hill in Lake Placid.

Rowley and Martin do not live next to the preserve. Riley said he hasn’t heard from any preserve neighbors who support the proposal. There have even been talks among Glenview’s neighbors about petitioning ALT’s proposal, as well as bringing lawsuits against the project should it move forward, according to Riley.

Local opposition to development at the preserve squashed a proposed Glenview project in the past — before it was known as the Glenview Preserve. Around 20 years ago, the APA and DOT wanted to develop a parking area with a formal scenic overlook on the property near the Harrietstown Cemetery, according to APA Public Information Officer Keith McKeever. The DOT was concerned about parking safety and increased traffic at the vista — much like ALT is now — and wanted to create an official place for people to park and enjoy the vista views.

Riley was among the locals who opposed the APA’s development proposal all those years ago. He gathered a dissenting petition with other neighbors of the preserve and even secured a spot on the Harrietstown Town Board to better fight the project, which was ultimately stifled at an APA meeting. Now, with another Glenview development proposal on the docket — one with a larger scope than the first — Riley is ready to once again fight to keep the Glenview Preserve “forever wild.”

“If they (the ALT) wanted to do something good, leave it forever wild,” Riley said.

Eileen Jauch, another preserve neighbor who fought development at the preserve 20 years ago, has argued that the ALT’s new proposal to develop the preserve goes against the land trust’s mission statement to “forever conserve the forests, farmlands, waters and wild places that advance the quality of life of our communities and the ecological integrity of the Adirondacks.”

Prickett said that part of ALT’s mission is to “forever conserve land for community benefit.”

Prickett noted the Three Sisters Preserve in Wilmington and the Coon Mountain Preserve in Westport as other preserves owned and managed by ALT that have public access with trails. Prickett believes these preserves are both “valued resources by neighbors and visitors.”

Prickett said ALT doesn’t plan to hold any more public feedback sessions about its plans for the Glenview Preserve.


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