Dec. 3, 2008: End city bashing over land purchases

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To The Editor:
I have lived in Andes for 22 plus years and served as President of the Catskill Forest Association for eight years. I remain as treasurer continuing my tenure on the board since it was founded in 1993. My comments here are only my own and not that of the organization.
My wife and I chose Andes for our retirement area primarily because of the large amount of city-owned land that would be forever protected. When we arrived, the city land was off limits to any activity except for fishing on the reservoirs with special permit. This has been changing for the better although at glacial speed. With great effort the Sporting Advisory Committee along with many others, including myself, have cajoled the city into allowing a multiple of recreational activities.
These recreational activities, such as hiking, hunting, bird watching, and fishing, will help the economy of the region if promoted properly. Hence, we should support the city land acquisition program for the following reason. Previous to city purchase most of these lands were posted and now they will be open to public use. I think this can be looked upon as a win-win both for the city and the region’s residents. Acquisitions that will remain pristine can be used to promote ecotourism, hunting and as educational environmental tools. Economy wise, think of the many bed and breakfasts and restaurants to accommodate the tourists. Consider also that the city is about to allow the use of canoes and kayaks on the reservoirs with the Cannonsville being the first in 2009.
The gist of this ramble is to counter all the negative comment about the city land acquisition program and point out the positive side and the benefits. That being said, we must face the reality of the city challenging their assessments 20 years after closing on a purchase and the potential ramifications on the balance of the taxpayers. At this point I recommend this to the Coalition of Watershed Towns, support the land acquisition program and in return for this support, which would include no expansion of the hamlets, and in return the city must sign a legal document declaring that they would not challenge their assessments on fee and easement purchases as long as they are in line with comparable private lands assessments. I believe that if the Coalition of Watershed Towns, town officials and agency heads take a positive attitude and negotiate in a strong and civil manner, including the ability to compromise when the larger community, upstate and downstate, can benefit, we can all win. Of course this must apply to city negotiators as well.
Let’s all think positively, end the city bashing and work hard to put together agreements that work for both parties.

Jack McShane,
Andes