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Lower Saranac Lake — whom do you want to blame?

To he editor:

Everyone I know who has an opinion on the Saranac Lake Marina development, on both sides of the argument, without exception, would like to see the issue resolved. But blaming Tom Jorling for the delay is like blaming the little Dutch boy, who saved the day by putting his finger in the dike, for the leak.

If you want to blame someone, blame the Adrondack Park Agency for not following its own law and regulations; blame the Department of Environmental Conservation for not developing an appropriate unit management plan with the long-promised carrying capacity study; blame the Town of Harrietstown Planning Board for ludicrously giving the project a negative SEQR determination; blame the Saranac Lake Marina for not proposing a phased plan for increasing the capacity of their marina that monitors lake use and grows in stages to ensure the lake’s capacity is not exceeded; blame the party bringing what most would agree is a SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) against Tom Jorling. A SLAPP, for those who don’t know, is a lawsuit that is filed, not to vindicate a fair and reasonable legal claim, but to punish or harass a defendant. Don’t blame Tom Jorling, a man who cares about the Adirondack Park and Lower Saranac Lake and has a record of the highest integrity.

I’ve lived on Lower Saranac Lake seasonally since 1956 and year-round since 1972. I’ve observed many changes on the lake, both good and bad. I first voiced my concerns about the DEC’s management of the lake in a letter to then DEC Commissioner Peter Berle in June 1977, shortly after all the tent platforms were removed. My family had a platform camp, but I was not against their removal. I was more concerned as to how the state was going to manage the lake to ensure its protection. Looking at the lake today, I believe my concerns were justified. The Saranac Islands Campground and its staff have been perpetually underfunded. I have a catalog of photos of the campsites in varying degrees of disrepair, not limited to decaying fireplaces, over 20 nails in a single tree, rotting picnic tables and aging outhouses in disrepair. I have photos of detritus ranging from beer cans, half-burned garbage, litter from small to large, including auto tires. Auto tires? Who would leave auto tires at a campsite, and why wouldn’t the state make sure they were cleaned up? I’ve observed the former tent platform sites, that were typically used two weeks a year, become campsites that have been beaten down by over 120 nights of use per season. My wife and I have dealt with drunk campers raucously paddling by our house at 4:30 in the morning and trying to get law enforcement to deal with such issues when our efforts at diplomacy failed.

You’ll forgive me for being skeptical of the state’s ability to manage the lake properly with an enlarged marina, and enlarged boat launch parking lot, and no determination of the lake’s carrying capacity or what actions will be taken if it is exceeded.

Is it frustrating? You’re damn right it’s frustrating, but don’t kill the messenger. If there is anyone who knows how this permit application should have been handled by the APA and DEC, it’s an ex-commissioner of the DEC.

Jack Drury

Saranac Lake

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