Former DEC commissioner: Adirondack Protection Agency has been negligent at lakes

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SARANAC LAKE, N.Y. (NEWS10) – It’s been some time since Thomas Jorling served as commissioner of New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation. But on Wednesday, he continued to be part of the conversation around the Adirondack Park.

In a conference held at the Hotel Saranac on Wednesday, Jorling made statements aimed at the Adirondack Park Agency, a state organization that has authority over many projects aiming for construction in the Adirondack Park.

In a brief conference streamed live on Facebook, Jorling suggested that APA staff researching a proposed new marina project on Saranac Lake had not provided a full picture of the project’s pros and cons.

Instead, he alleged that staff had advocated for the project without discussing drawbacks, including dock length.

He said that the APA needs to adopt parkwide guidance and regulations surrounding marinas, similar to what it already has for private docks. Any guidance at the APA level would affect all lakes within the Adirondack Park.

To indicate what that might look like, he pointed at the Lake George Park Commission, which mandates a length limit of 100 feet for docks at marinas, so that they don’t impinge too far into the lake.

Park Commission Director David Wick said that keeping those limits intact is extremely important in maintaining traffic on and around the lake, as well as limiting ecological impact. The rules his commission enforces are expansions on ones the APA set up in the 1980s.

The APA-approved marina project at Saranac Lake – a body of water about a tenth of the size of Lake George – would have docks going out 250 to 300 feet into the water.

Jorling listed several points of action he would like to see take place at the APA, including a more rigid format for how APA staff present information to the board for approval; that the existing process be placed under investigation; and the creation of proper marina-based rules.

APA Public Relations Officer Keith McKeever sent News 10 ABC a response to Jorling’s comments, which reads as follows:

The Adirondack Park Agency respectfully disagrees with former New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Thomas Jorling’s comments.

The Agency conducted a comprehensive, science based, multi-year review of the LS Marina project.  Based on Agency staff recommendations the applicant altered their original proposal to avoid unnecessary negative impacts.  Staff presented their evidence-based recommendations and the full details of the final proposal to the Agency Board at its September 2020 meeting.  After two days of deliberations, the Agency Board voted to approve the project and authorize a permit and variance that included stringent conditions to protect water quality, and to minimize visual and other impacts.  The Agency is confident our action fully complies with all applicable laws and regulations. We now await Essex Supreme Court Justice Richard B. Meyer’s decision on this matter and have no further comment.  

The public is encouraged to watch the September 2020 staff presentation and Agency Board deliberations found on the Agency’s website at –   http://nysapa.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=2

The conference can be viewed in full on the Facebook page for Relentless Awareness, the PR firm that hosted the event.

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