Summer 2021 Letter
From our founding in 2009, the SPC has been and continues to be prepared to protect the legal rights of the Sacandaga Lake Community. With the help of our law firm Hodgson-Russ and our Albany lobbyist Georgio DeRosa, the SPC has been successfully protecting the rights of our community.
Threats such as the DEC claiming the land around the lake be classified as Forest Preserve--which would have meant no motor vehicles, including lawn mowers, overnight tents, picnic tables, and severely limited property maintenance on the state land in front of lake homes--to the issue three years ago when the state legislature attempted a midnight sneak attack on our local communities by passing a law which would have required the Hudson River-Black River Regulating District to undertake another beneficiary study (the legislative preamble specifically identified permit holders and our local communities to be included), the SPC has stood up and rallied with our local communities and told the state STOP!
In between these issues the SPC has worked to retain exclusive use for permit holders, and challenged the unilateral decision by the HRBRRD board to remove the word "Exclusive" for permit applications and signs. The SPC’s attorneys successfully lobbied the board to put "Exclusive" back on the permit signs and to replace the signs that were issued incorrectly. This was a victory for our entire community. Without Exclusive Use of a permit area we would have an uncontrolled 129 mile public beach. The environment would have suffered, property values would have dropped, and the local tax burden would have shifted from the lake front homes to the rest of the community.
In 2009 Niagara Mohawk Power Corp (NIMO) sued the HRBRRD in Federal Court for relief from paying for the benefits it receives from the land it owns along the banks near the Conklingville Dam and along the Hudson River. In this lawsuit NIMO claimed (among a series of other claims) that private property owners and permit holders should be declared beneficiaries, and should be assessed the same as downstream beneficiaries, and that the permit system was illegal and must be abolished. The SPC's attorneys were involved in both the first Federal Court proceedings and the appeal. The lawsuit was ultimately resolved in Federal Appeals Court in the SPC’s and HRBRRD’s favor. Federal Court Judge Mordue's ruling specifically noted the SPC's attorney’s contribution representing "both the front lot and back lot property owners as well as business and recreational users of the Great Sacandaga Lake."
Funding Issues: The SPC has remained vigilant in the continuing plight of the HRBRRD to secure adequate funding for their operations while protecting the interests of our local communities. When the Hudson River side of the HRBRRD ran out of funds and stopped paying local taxes to our schools during the NIMO lawsuits, the SPC successfully lobbied to allow the HRBRRD to borrow excess funds from the Black River side of their organization. The SPC remains committed in seeing that the HRBRRD is adequately funded from the proper sources and that they continue to pay their share of local taxes.
There was a proposal from Assemblyman McDonald from Cohoes to eliminate the HRBRRD and put the operations under the control of the NYS Power Authority. This misguided effort thought that the Power Authority had extra funds that they could use to pay the local taxes, therefore relieving the real beneficiaries of their responsibility of paying for the flood control that the GSL provides to downstream communities. The SPC was adamantly opposed to this plan, and successfully lobbied against it.
There have been many other issues that the SPC's Board has been involved in. The SPC has vetted potential HRBRRD board members and submitted names to the Governor's office for review. We are excited that there are now four board members with direct ties to the lake community. The SPC Co-Chairs enjoy a good relationship with the board and the Executive Director. We feel our voice is making a difference in the operation of the HRBRRD, and they are a better member of our community because of our involvement.
What's next? That's the million dollar question. How will the $20 million the state DEC is contributing to the dam repairs be administered? Will it come with strings attached? Water capacity, erosion, shoreline maintenance, or something new all are out there and will be new issues. The question is "Do you want the SPC to be there when it comes up".
We are a 100% volunteer board. We do not pay any employees. We have our lawyers on retainer, and pay for our lobbyist. Our other expenses are fund raising, Fulton Montgomery Chamber of Commerce for administrative services, and WEST & Co. accountants to review our books and prepare our tax returns.
We need the support of our community to do these things. Please consider sending $200 or more to the SPC, P.O. Box 86, Mayfield NY 12117. It is the least expensive investment in your property and community that you could ever make.
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