GARDINER — Susan Lewis seems almost surprised by the environmental fight she's engaged in.

She's an environmentalist herself, a member and supporter of the Mohonk Preserve.

But these days she finds herself questioning some critical aspects of a proposed campground that would abut her property on Marakill Lane. The 50-site campground is being proposed by the Palisades Interstate Park Commission. It would be managed by the preserve. The proposed Shawangunk Gateway Campground abuts the property of seven other homes in the shadow of the Shawangunk Ridge.

Lewis would like to see alcohol banned from the site and enforceable limits placed on the number of people who can use it. The project could become reality by the end of the year.

But most of all, she'd like to see the proposal come under the jurisdiction of the local Planning Board. But that's something that, to Lewis' dismay, the PIPC says isn't going to happen.

The PIPC is not subject to local laws, it says.

"It's a bit frightening to me that we have no formal mechanism to ensure that whatever agreements we come to with the PIPC will be enforceable in the future," she said.

If this were a private development, she said, the builders would need a special permit from the town to proceed.

Lewis recently forwarded a petition with 150 signatures to town officials. She and her lawyer have met twice with the PIPC's executive director, James Hall, to try and resolve the issues. But Hall said Tuesday the commission's position isn't about to change.

"As a state entity, we're not subject to local laws, any more than when the state wants to build a road through state-owned land," he said. "It's a question of state sovereignty."

To do otherwise, such as agree to a deed restriction as Lewis has proposed, would be tantamount, Hall said, to granting private property owners control over state land.

As for formally limiting alcohol consumption, he said that rather than forbid it, the site's managers would monitor any inappropriate behavior. He also said that the site would not be rented out for large-scale parties as Lewis and other property owners fear.
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The MPNA is an advocacy group for adjacent neighbors of the Mohonk Preserve. In the event of a dispute with the Mohonk Preserve, we can offer assistance in obtaining experts in the following areas; Surveying, Lawyers, Title, expert witnesses, ancient document research, and Maps.