Letter to the Editor

New York Proposal 3, Forest Preserve Land Bank Amendment (2017)

To the Editor,

The Adirondacks and Catskills are home to vast amounts of forest preserve. This is land that is protected by the state constitution as forever wild, which means nothing can be built there, and trees can’t be cut. But not all of this land is remote wilderness. Much of it sits right alongside roads and bridges and other developed areas. This poses a problem for local communities when the only way to straighten a dangerous road, replace a failing bridge or install broadband or other important infrastructure is to intrude on a small piece of preserve. In order to do so, the community must obtain a constitutional amendment allowing use of the land — a process that takes at least two years.

On November 7, voters will be asked to vote on Ballot Proposal #3. This ballot will allow the state to add 250 acres of land to the forest preserve and allow Adirondack and Catskill communities to remove a total of 250 existing acres over a period of years without the burden of a constitutional amendment. This bank of acres can only be used when public health and safety projects can’t be completed otherwise. Local governments, environmental groups, business organizations and recreational enthusiasts all support Ballot #3.

At a time when common sense is so often in short supply, Ballot Proposal #3 makes perfect sense. I encourage voters to vote “yes” for the Adirondacks and the Catskills on Nov. 7.

Raymond Merlotto

Member, NYS Conservation Council

Patterson, NY

Editor’s Note: To see a copy online of this and other proposals to appear on the NYS ballot on November 7, visit Elections.NY.Gov and click on “2017 Ballot Proposal Certification” in the top right hand menu of the home page.