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#18567 - 03/15/06 05:51 PM State buys 2,518 acres on Shawangunk Ridge !
Mim Online   content
old hand

Registered: 01/27/00
Posts: 996
Loc: Gunks

Full Article
03/15/2006

State buys 2,518 acres on Shawangunk Ridge
By William J. Kemble , Correspondent


GARDINER - Town officials welcomed announcement Tuesday of the state's $17 million purchase of 2,518 acres of Awosting Reserve property, expanding the Minnewaska State Park Preserve and preventing the planned development of the property along the Shawangunk Ridge.

"I think everyone was holding their breaths for the last three months, sure that something would go wrong," town Councilwoman Nadine Lemmon said.

The property was sold to the Trust for Public Land on Friday and immediately resold to New York state for the same price, according to trust spokeswoman Susan Clark.

"If we hadn't protected this, it would certainly have been developed ... and would have been lost to the people of New York," Clark said.

Announcing the deal Tuesday, state officials reported the land will be added to a 32,000-acre tract of protected land and includes the area where construction of 350 luxury housing units and a 296-acre golf course had been proposed in 2002. That plan had sparked local opposition.

The development plan was withdrawn following town efforts to change its comprehensive plan and zoning law, which were adopted earlier this year despite the threat of lawsuits.

Also, Awosting Reserve LLC general partner John Atwater Bradley clashed with the company chosen to develop the site, Chaffin/Light Associates, and fired the firm. Chaffin/Light sued Bradley and won, resulting in a Delaware judge ordering the land be put up for sale.

The property was listed for sale last year for $35 million by Awosting Reserve LLC.

"We were expecting one (lawsuit) even from Awosting Reserve because their lawyers were in the room up until the end, even after the announcement of the open space deal," Lemmon said. "I think it's very important for the community to have some say in what will happen with that property. It is a part of Gardiner and we did work hard, both activists and legislators, to make something happen there and it will be great if it's not a top down decision on what happens to that property."

Lemmon, town Supervisor Carl Zatz, and Councilman Matt Bialecki were a Democratic Party ticket that swept onto the Town Board in 2003 as opponents to Republican incumbents who were not considered sufficiently committed to stopping the development.

In the state Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation press release announcing state acquisition of the property, officials wrote, "developers and environmentalists have eyed this land with its ridge top views and abundant streams, pools, and waterfall."

Under an arrangement with the Trust for Public Land, which state officials identified as a national organization, the property was bought from developers for $17 million and immediately resold to the state for the same amount.

"The loss of this land to development would have been a tragedy," trust Vice President Rose Harvey said. "I couldn't imagine a more fitting capstone to Gov. (George) Pataki's work to protect the Shawangunk Ridge. This is a major victory for the state and all the organizations and individuals who have spent years working together to protect this unique resource."

The $17 million purchase is being funded through the state's Environmental Protection Fund. Properties along the Shawangunk ridge have been identified as priority projects in New York's Open Space Plan.

-- The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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#18568 - 03/15/06 08:06 PM Re: State buys 2,518 acres on Shawangunk Ridge ! [Re: Mim]
chip Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 10/06/01
Posts: 2674
Loc: Sittin' Pretty in Fat City
Given the statement that decisions about use of the area should not be made from the top down, is this an area where the GCC can point out climbing resources on the property to the state before the Palisades Park commision tells us how unsafe and off-limits it is? I don't know the property at all, but rumor has it that some locals certainly do and that there are more than good cragging, including Millbrook, at stake.

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#18569 - 03/15/06 08:44 PM Re: State buys 2,518 acres on Shawangunk Ridge -- the NY Times story [Re: Mim]
oenophore Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/24/01
Posts: 5934
Loc: 212 land
By LISA W. FODERARO -- Published: March 15, 2006


New York State has acquired a 2,500-acre tract of wilderness along the Shawangunk Ridge in Ulster County and plans to use the land to expand the adjoining Minnewaska State Park Preserve, state officials announced yesterday.

Philip Nicholas, project manager of the Trust for Public Land. His organization helped negotiate the purchase of the Awosting Reserve, long a goal of conservationists. The deal was announced by the state Tuesday.

The Awosting Reserve was at the center of a development battle.
Two conservation groups, The Trust for Public Land and the Open Space Institute, negotiated the deal in recent months and bought the land on Friday for $17 million. The property was immediately transferred to the state.

"It's something that is really one of the great landmarks of New York," said Gov. George E. Pataki in a telephone interview after the closing. "The thought that it would have been filled with very large and environmentally unfriendly second homes is something that weighed heavily on a lot of minds. Now it will be preserved for future generations."

The Shawangunks — affectionately called "the Gunks" — consist of cliffs, forests, waterfalls and lakes. Situated south of the Catskill Mountains, the ridge runs for 48 miles on the west side of the Hudson River, from Ulster County into New Jersey. The area attracted nature enthusiasts in the Victorian era and is still enormously popular among rock climbers, hikers and artists.

Large swaths of the ridge's northern portion had been protected years ago through conservation efforts, including the formation of Minnewaska Park (12,000 acres), the Mohonk Preserve (6,600 acres) and Sam's Point Preserve (5,300 acres).

But the 2,518 acres known as the Awosting Reserve, just south of Minnewaska and about 80 miles northwest of New York City, had eluded conservation groups.

It became the center of a development battle that pitted environmentalists and local residents against a business partnership that had proposed a development with a 296-acre golf course and 349 luxury homes.

The man who assembled the land, John Atwater Bradley, a local resident and self-described conservationist, maintained that the property would be better protected by creating a low-density, ecologically sensitive housing development than by turning it over to the state.

Mr. Bradley went into partnership with a developer and together they sketched out a "green community," with Adirondack-style houses fashioned of stone and timber, set back from the ridge line. A nature center and nonprofit land trust were also contemplated.

But many residents and conservationists did not share the vision, arguing that the houses and golf course would tarnish an unspoiled wilderness by disrupting vistas and compromising the nearby preserves.

"Save the Ridge" signs popped up along roadsides and in store windows throughout the region. Some were spotted as far away as Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where some artists with weekend homes live during the week.

Soon after the development partnership presented the plan to the Town of Gardiner, the partnership became bogged down in disagreement, leading to legal action among the principals. A judge ordered the land sold in order to settle the dispute, and a court-appointed lawyer last fall considered several bids, including some from developers.

"This is the last important piece in a huge conservation assemblage," said Rose Harvey, a senior vice president of The Trust for Public Land who oversees the Mid-Atlantic region.

Joe Martens, president of the Open Space Institute, said in a statement that the Awosting Reserve was "the holy grail of the Shawangunks."

Still, some local officials praised Mr. Bradley for keeping the property intact. "For four decades, he has been the steward of that property and has maintained its pristine nature rather than break it up into smaller developments," said Carl Zatz, the supervisor of the Town of Gardiner.

Since taking office in 1995, Mr. Pataki has overseen the protection of almost one million acres of open space across the state. Ms. Harvey credited the state for being "fast and efficient and flexible" in coming up with the money to reimburse the groups for the acquisition. State officials tapped the Environmental Protection Fund for the purchase.

Mr. Pataki said he had hiked extensively in the Shawangunks and was "very aware" of the Awosting Reserve. "Now we can just enjoy it," he added.
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#18570 - 03/15/06 08:58 PM Behind all the PR rewritten reporting... [Re: oenophore]
D75 Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 03/18/05
Posts: 293
Loc: Holiday Inn Express
The double transaction seems strange!

What was its purpose?
Did the trust alter the deed in some fashion?
Did NY state make any guarantees as to the usage?
Will this be a total non-event with respect to rock climbing, or even worse, permanently eliminate the prospect of rock climbing?

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#18571 - 03/15/06 09:24 PM Re: Behind all the PR rewritten reporting... [Re: D75]
pedestrian Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 08/05/02
Posts: 2244
Loc: a heavily fortified bunker!
Most interesting, perhaps, is that apparently TPL was NOT the lowest bidder.

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#18572 - 03/15/06 09:28 PM GCC and Awosting Reserve [Re: pedestrian]
Smike Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 05/01/01
Posts: 3143
Loc: in your backyard
is this an area where the GCC can point out climbing resources on the property to the state before the Palisades Park commision tells us how unsafe and off-limits it is?

Link to other thread concerning GCC and new land deal

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#18573 - 03/15/06 09:34 PM Re: GCC and Awosting Reserve [Re: Smike]
Smike Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 05/01/01
Posts: 3143
Loc: in your backyard
The double transaction seems strange!

What was its purpose?
Did the trust alter the deed in some fashion?
Did NY state make any guarantees as to the usage?
Will this be a total non-event with respect to rock climbing, or even worse, permanently eliminate the prospect of rock climbing?


From the http://www.tpl.org site

Conservation Transactions
TPL helps structure, negotiate, and complete land transactions that create parks, playgrounds, and protected natural areas. TPL serves as an independent agent, buying land from willing landowners and then transferring it to public agencies, land trusts, or other groups for protection. In some instances, TPL will protect land through conservation easements, which restrict development but permit traditional uses such as farming and ranching.

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#18574 - 03/15/06 11:01 PM Re: GCC and Awosting Reserve [Re: Smike]
greyalien Offline
journeyman

Registered: 05/06/05
Posts: 86
Loc: Central NJ and Upstate NY
Sounds pretty groovy.

I assume that other than milbrook, most of the climbing will be bouldering and peters kill type stuff?
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- Will

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#18575 - 03/16/06 12:53 AM Re: GCC and Awosting Reserve [Re: greyalien]
caver Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 01/11/03
Posts: 260
Loc: High Falls
Don't rev up your crash pads too quickly guys...I think about 99 percent of the land is at the base of the cliffs, although maybe you should bring your crash pad-lots of talus, I think they even found a rattle snake or two in there!

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#18576 - 03/16/06 01:58 PM Re: GCC and Awosting Reserve [Re: caver]
groundhog Offline
member

Registered: 04/19/01
Posts: 137
Loc: southern NJ
"Double transactions" for this type of thing are commonplace...
and regarding access, some reports I have seen declare the Palmaghatt to be "exceptionally sensitive" (for whatever that means)... I'd be surprised if PIPC ever allows access. After all, you are not even supposed to be off a trail at Minnewaska.

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