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#53593 - 08/03/10 01:36 PM MohonkPreserveNeighborsAssociation
Advocacy group Offline
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Registered: 08/03/10
Posts: 653
Loc: New Paltz,Marbletown,Gardiner,...
The Mohonk Preserve Neighbors Association is an advocacy group for adjacent neighbors of the Mohonk Preserve. The Mohonk Preserve Neighbors Association was formed in direct response to the confrontational tactics used by the Mohonk Preserve. In the event of a dispute with the Mohonk Preserve we can offer help in the following areas:

Surveying
Legal representation
Title
Ancient document research
Maps

There are at least two cases before the courts right now. In both cases Mohonk Preserve is the Plaintiff. For those of you not familiar with the legal terms, that means that the Mohonk Preserve is suing their neighbors. We will post the outcome of these trials here and on our facebook page when the judges have written their respective decisions. Since climbers make up a significant percentage of revenue generated, we are asking that you stop donating to the Mohonk Preserve if the ruling favors the Defendants. As various cases finish we will be posting documents, transcripts, photos, maps and other useful data for the public to view. Thank you for your support.

The Mohonk Neighbors Association


Edited by Advocacy group (08/03/10 04:08 PM)
Edit Reason: spelling

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#53601 - 08/03/10 04:33 PM Re: MohonkPreserveNeighborsAssociation [Re: Julie]
Coppertone Offline
old hand

Registered: 08/17/00
Posts: 1053
Loc: Newtown, CT
Just curious, but by donating to the preserve would you be including day and season passes in that? If that is the case you are asking us to stop climbing in the Gunks? If that is the case and you acknowledge that climbers are an import part of the local economy aren't you asking climbers to negatively effect the local community? You would also be asking climbers to choose your interests over their own. If that is the case then I doubt you will find much support. If you are just referring to donations that are above any usage fee to preserve then that is a different story. Not looking to start any war of words just looking for clarification on what you are asking.


Edited by Coppertone (08/03/10 04:34 PM)

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#53602 - 08/03/10 04:39 PM Re: MohonkPreserveNeighborsAssociation [Re: Coppertone]
Advocacy group Offline
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Registered: 08/03/10
Posts: 653
Loc: New Paltz,Marbletown,Gardiner,...
Your level of support for The Mohonk Preserve is up to you. We feel Mohonk Preserve patrons should be aware of the various outcomes of the current court cases. Your level of support armed with this knowledge is up to you. We will provide the documents when they become available.
_________________________
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.

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#53611 - 08/03/10 06:22 PM Re: MohonkPreserveNeighborsAssociation [Re: Advocacy group]
oenophore Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/24/01
Posts: 5933
Loc: 212 land
What does the plaintiff allege in these suits?
_________________________

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#53612 - 08/03/10 06:29 PM Re: MohonkPreserveNeighborsAssociation [Re: oenophore]
Advocacy group Offline
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Registered: 08/03/10
Posts: 653
Loc: New Paltz,Marbletown,Gardiner,...
In short: The plaintiff alleges to have title to a 70 acre parcel in the clove. The Defendant claims superior title to the same parcel and is also in occupation of said parcel for at least 50 years. Documents to be provided soon.
_________________________
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.

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#53613 - 08/03/10 06:34 PM Re: MohonkPreserveNeighborsAssociation [Re: Advocacy group]
Advocacy group Offline
addict

Registered: 08/03/10
Posts: 653
Loc: New Paltz,Marbletown,Gardiner,...
For those of you that are interested, this civil action is a public record and can be seen at the county building in kingston. But we will try and have some docs to post soon.
_________________________
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.

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#53614 - 08/03/10 06:53 PM Re: MohonkPreserveNeighborsAssociation [Re: Advocacy group]
Doug Online   content
member

Registered: 12/29/06
Posts: 165
If I am arguing with my neighbor over our boundaries, don't we both just present our records for a city/county/... surveyor to go out to determine where the boundary actually is? This seems like a pretty routine event that I don't see why the Gunks climbing population at large (a large part of which likely lives far from Gardiner) should care about. What is the justification for asking the climbing community to punish the Preserve for trying to accurately define its property?

I can see getting upset if they went out and put up fences knowing there was a dispute, but seeking a definitive ruling from a court seems an appropriately mundane course of action.

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#53615 - 08/03/10 07:23 PM Re: MohonkPreserveNeighborsAssociation [Re: Doug]
Advocacy group Offline
addict

Registered: 08/03/10
Posts: 653
Loc: New Paltz,Marbletown,Gardiner,...
Doug,

Great post and I would agree with you all things being equal. Most people try and do the right thing with regards to their boundaries, but your post shows precisely why the MPNA has been formed. There is no such thing as a "city/county/... surveyor to go out to determine where the boundary actually is" Many people including the Mohonk Preserve do not have surveys as they are expensive and the research takes time. The MPNA thinks everyone should have an accurate survey of their lands, but that is just not the case. We are here to give landowners help in learning about the process and to connect them with the appropriate experts should a conflict arise. And this is not just in Gardiner, it's in New Paltz, Marbletown, Rosendale, and Rochester as well. The MPNA position is that we are asking patrons of the preserve to look at what the courts are saying and to make a decision that feels right to each individual patron based on the facts.
_________________________
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.

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#53617 - 08/03/10 07:47 PM Re: MohonkPreserveNeighborsAssociation [Re: TrappDyke]
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Registered: 08/03/10
Posts: 653
Loc: New Paltz,Marbletown,Gardiner,...
An article from the New York Times

Buying Land, Crying Foul; Preservationists Accused Of Overzealous Tactics In Bid to Keep Land Wild
By JOSEPH BERGER
Published: June 2, 1998
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HIGH FALLS, N.Y.— Karen Pardini and Michael Fink, two middle-aged children of the back-to-the-land 1960's, had long had their eyes on a largely untamed patch in the Shawangunk Mountains.

So when the land became available in 1986, they cobbled together a down payment to buy 211 acres and began fixing up a tumbledown barn. For eight years, they camped out in woods and took pleasure in their land, sometimes hiking to a ridge at the end of their property to savor the soaring views of the Catskills.

Then one day, as Ms. Pardini walked along the road that cuts across her property, she noticed pink and yellow ribbons put up by a local surveyor. Someone else, she realized, coveted her property.

It eventually turned out there was a claimant, and it was not a wily real estate speculator but a land preservation group, the Shawangunk Conservancy. The conservancy, one of 1,100 such groups nationwide that pride themselves on their ethics by buying from willing sellers with unclouded titles, had long desired the land as a missing link in a 50-mile chain of ridgeland that it wants to render forever wild for the pleasure of hikers and climbers.

The group produced two unorthodox deeds that, it argued, proved that it now had possession of almost half of the land Mr. Fink and Ms. Pardini thought they owned.

In the long, nasty quarrel that followed, a judge ruled in March that the conservancy's deeds were worthless and said Ms. Pardini and Mr. Fink could sue for fraud. As a result, the conservancy and other groups that preserve land in the Shawangunks have found themselves on the defensive. Even some other land preservationists have accused the conservancy of overzealous tactics.

''Land conservation for many people is a crusade,'' said David Church, executive director of the New York Planning Federation, which advocates sound land use. ''And well-meaning or not, what you discover on a crusade is that the means are justified by the ends.''

The conservancy is appealing the judge's decision. Keith LaBudde, its president, says it acquired the disputed land in legal and upright fashion because Ms. Pardini and Mr. Fink never authentically owned it. He rejects the idea that his group should have passed up the disputed land rather than distress people who bought the land in good faith.

''Environmentalists are supposed to be featherheads, is that it?'' said Mr. LaBudde, a 63-year-old retired professor of computer science. ''I think what you do is pursue with rigor, you look at all the facts and approach it in a businesslike way.''

The dispute has had some wider ramifications as well. Though the conservancy is a small, 10-year-old organization, it works to acquire land with much richer and better known organizations in New York like the Mohonk Preserve and the Open Space Institute. Together, the three groups have assembled more than 10,000 acres in the breathtaking Shawangunks, which stretch from the Delaware River almost to the Hudson and are the setting for the popular and historic Mohonk Mountain House resort near New Paltz.

The Pardini-Fink dispute is not the first in which residents in the New Paltz-High Falls area have felt mistreated by preservationists. At least two other landowners say that within the last 10 years they were pressured to give up long-held mountainside properties after they were barred from using the rights of way to the land. The Mohonk Preserve eventually acquired the properties. The preserve denies that it acted improperly and says that the disputes were complicated by such factors as conflicts with neighboring landowners.

At bottom, Mr. Fink and Ms. Pardini accuse the conservancy of trying to steal their land by tactics more fitting a real estate operator than an upright environmental group. ''Everybody knew it was our property,'' Mr. Fink said in a recent interview. ''Just because the bike wasn't in the backyard and tied up doesn't give you permission to take it.''

Ms. Pardini had long craved the land. Almost 15 years before she and Mr. Fink made the down payment, Ms. Pardini camped out at Smitty's Dude Ranch here. It had a bar popular with hippies and was owned by an engaging character, Wilbur Smith, who kept his land in his wives' names.

Buying Land, Crying Foul; Preservationists Accused Of Overzealous Tactics In Bid to Keep Land Wild
Published: June 2, 1998
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(Page 2 of 2)

In 1983, Ms. Pardini, a midwife and teacher of African dance, met Mr. Fink, who made a living selecting trees for lumber. They fell in love and talked about one day buying ''Smitty's'' land. In 1986, they raised enough for the $300,000 purchase by asking their parents and a sister to mortgage their homes. Eight years later, they saw the ribbons put up by Norman Van Valkenburgh, the surveying consultant for both the conservancy and the Mohonk Preserve.

Mr. Van Valkenburgh, a former director of lands and forests for the state's Department of Environmental Conservation, has a crusty appreciation of land disputes, writing mystery novels about such conflicts with titles like ''Murder in the Catskills.'' Poking around in deeds for land the conservancy might buy up for preservation, he wrote a letter in 1994 to Mr. Smith's first wife, Mary Lue, telling her ''it may come as a surprise,'' but she still owned 30 acres of Fink-Pardini land. A 1965 deed by which she conveyed the land to his second wife ended with a comma in the middle of a sentence, omitting the pages that described two parcels. Mr. Fink and Ms. Pardini said it was a 30-year-old clerical error. Mr. Van Valkenburgh said, ''How did I know it was a clerical error?''

The conservancy paid Mary Lue Smith $5,000 for her title. But in an affidavit in the Fink-Pardini case, Mary Lue, who eventually remarried Wilbur Smith as his third wife, said Mr. Van Valkenburgh and the conservancy's counsel, Robert K. Anderberg, ''misled and tricked me and my husband'' into accepting $5,000. She said they had implied that the land was unclaimed and landlocked. Mr. Van Valkenburgh replied that he showed the Smiths deeds and maps.

The conservancy also tried to claim another piece of Fink-Pardini land using another deed with an aberrant pedigree. In 1982, two outdoorsmen, Wayne F. Kelder and his brother-in-law, Lars Hagen, bought 40 acres of ridgeland for $7,000 from the heirs of a woman whose own acquisitions were based on fuzzy deeds dating from 1911, 1928, 1937 and 1946. The boundaries were highly questionable, defined only by the adjoining owners rather than by the usual manner of distance and angle from the nearest roads.

Although Mr. Kelder and Mr. Hagen admit they had only a sketchy idea of where their land was, they spent 13 years hunting and cutting wood on the property without protests, never realizing it was owned first by the dude ranch and then by Ms. Pardini and Mr. Fink.

The accumulation of conflicting claims persuaded Mr. Hagen and Mr. Kelder to sell the land to the conservancy for $37,500 rather than become mired in costly litigation. Mr. LaBudde said he ''never had any suspicion'' the land was owned by Ms. Pardini and Mr. Fink. Nevertheless, he added, ''We recognized we were buying a problem.''

One issue the dispute has exposed is that deeds and tax maps can be hazy in mountainous woodland where owners are cavalier about boundaries. The location of the Kelder-Hagen claim is so uncertain that Mr. Van Valkenburgh believes the conservancy can use it to assert ownership of 136 acres of Pardini-Fink land.

Mr. Van Valkenburgh believes that the Kelder-Hagen land is actually the next parcel to the south. Yet, he maintains, the conservancy can claim the land the outdoorsmen lived on by a legal principle known as adverse possession, which entitles an occupant to ownership of someone else's land if after many years there are no protests.

In March, Justice Vincent P. Bradley of State Supreme Court in Ulster County rejected the conservancy's deed for the Hagen-Kelder parcel as worthlessly vague and its deed for the Pardini-Fink land as exploiting an obvious clerical error.

Ms. Pardini and Mr. Fink are not celebrating the judge's ruling. They have spent $36,000 on legal fees and fear that in the appeals process, the conservancy may have the resources to wear them down. Twelve years after buying their land, they still live in a house in Kingston, 10 miles away, because the money and time spent on the dispute have stalled plans to make the barn habitable. Mr. Fink and Ms. Pardini have been told they could get $2 million for their land. But they say they will not sell.

''What could you buy with the money that could replace this?'' Ms. Pardini asked, gazing out over her land.

Photo: Karen Pardini and Michael Fink on their land in High Falls, N.Y. A judge has ruled in their favor in a claim by a land preservation group to some of their property. (Chris Maynard for The New York Times) Map showing the 136 acres claimed by the Shawangunk Conservancy and the lands of Pardini and Fink: The property interrupts a chain of preserved Shawangunk ridgeland. (pg. B7)
_________________________
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.

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#53618 - 08/03/10 07:51 PM Re: MohonkPreserveNeighborsAssociation [Re: Advocacy group]
Advocacy group Offline
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Registered: 08/03/10
Posts: 653
Loc: New Paltz,Marbletown,Gardiner,...
From the Chronogram:

Pirates of the Shawangunks
Planet Waves for August 2001 | By Eric Francis
......To get the most out of this story, you'll need to be familiar with two concepts, and then the rest should be obvious, or if not, unbelievable. The first is "land conservancy" and the second is "adverse possession."

......A land conservancy is a nonprofit organization created to preserve what is left of nature. In New York's Hudson Valley -- particularly along the Shawangunk Ridge and in the neighboring valleys -- there are a number of them, including the Mohonk Preserve, Friends of the Shawangunks, the Rondout Land Conservancy, and others. Their charge is to protect undeveloped land perpetually, and make it available to the public for limited use, such as recreational or educational purposes.

......Land conservancies, like 501-C nonprofit organizations, are exempt from paying real estate taxes and corporate taxes. They get their money through public donations and from huge trusts, like Open Space Institute and the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund. They acquire much of their land from people who have homes neighboring an existing preserve, who either willingly sell their land to a conservancy, or will it to them. Willing is a big deal for a conservancy; in their PR materials, they like to use the word a lot, such as "willing seller."

......Next: adverse possession. This is a method of acquiring property that is akin to squatter's rights, or acquisition by trespassing. The classic adverse possession case is if you build a barn and half the barn is on your neighbor's land, but your neighbor doesn't notice or doesn't care. If 10 years go by, you can make an adverse possession claim to the land on which your barn sits. You occupy it, you built an improvement, and maybe your deed isn't clear about the boundary line. If you win in court, the land is yours. It is an extremely rare method of land acquisition, and it's not friendly.

......Now, here is the story of how a land conservancy called Friends of the Shawangunks is fighting with its neighbors, Karen Pardini and Michael Fink, to acquire their land by adverse possession. Friends of the Shawangunks works directly with Mohonk Preserve, and in fact was created in the 1960s as an "advocacy organization" for Mohonk. Today, it sells most of the land it acquires to Mohonk.

......In 1994, Friends of the Shawangunks, with the assistance of Mohonk, sued two of its neighbors, Karen Pardini and Michael Fink. Karen and Michael are the current owners of the old Smitty's Ranch on Clove Road. This now-closed High Falls bar and hotel was an Ulster County landmark for generations. The lawsuit is an extremely complicated tale, but in brief, Friends and Mohonk, according to court exhibits, made a claim to land they knew they didn't own. The suit was going quite poorly for them, and in fact a judge later dismissed all the original elements and said that Karen and Michael could sue Friends of the Shawangunks for fraud.

......The conservancy felt it needed to get Karen and Michael's land another way, so in 1995, it purchased a strange old deed from two area men, Wayne Kelder and Lars Hagen. In 1982, Kelder and Hagen had purchased an ancient deed at an estate sale for $7,000. The deed contained no address, no metes and bounds, no exact acreage, and not so much as an approximate road location. The estate sale deed dated back to an even older World War II-era tax sale deed, which in turn went back to a 1911 "quitclaim" deed. At minimum, you could say that this is a very shaky chain of title. The funniest part is that in 1911, the same piece of land was conveyed twice: once when it was taken by the state for taxes, and again when the prior owners, after losing it, "sold" it to a logger. So, there was the real land, and the phantom deed which originated with the 1911 purchase by the logger.

......It appears as if the creators of the original phantom deed altered the description of the land in such a way that it didn't match the real property or the real deed that was on file with the county. In fact, no other deed in the county has descriptions/adjoinders which align with this one.

......At the time Kelder and Hagen purchased the phantom deed at the estate sale in 1982, neither the current deed nor any of the prior ones were on record with the county as far back as the 1940s. Nobody could actually find the land on the ground, including Hagen, Kelder, or the mystery deed's previous owners, the Osterhaut family. In more modern times, no title searcher has been able to locate the phantom parcel of land.

......Kelder and Hagen filed their deed with the county attached to a map encompassing about a third of the property already owned by Karen Pardini and Michael Fink -- the old Smitty's Dude Ranch. The Kelder and Hagen deed had nothing to do with Karen and Michael's land; the real land to which their phantom deed once pertained (nearly a century ago) was more than a mile away.

......If you're wondering why everybody is after the Smitty's Ranch property, it's that it's no ordinary piece of real estate. It's a secluded, lush forest with the spring-fed Coxing Kill running straight through its center. There is a five-tier waterfall. Most of the 204 acres are undeveloped; there's just a house and a barn. It's commercially-zoned, making it extremely valuable. And, best of all, it's adjoined by Mohonk Preserve on three sides. No neighbors! Except, of course, for Mohonk -- and the land in question is directly in view of the tower at the Mohonk Mountain House.

......Meanwhile, Norman van Vaulkenburgh, the joint-surveyor and land-acquisition official employed by both Friends of the Shawangunks and Mohonk Preserve, was aware of the supposed Kelder and Hagen claim when he was searching for land in the Clove Valley that could potentially be preserved, back in the early '90s. Their claim was something of a joke, because the deeds referred to nothing, nowhere, and everyone knew it.

......Van Vaulkenburgh conducted an extensive search for the alleged Hagen/Kelder parcel, and in a confidential 1993 report to the Friends of the Shawangunks, obtained by Chronogram, he concluded that Kelder and Hagen had no claim to any land anywhere in the vicinity, nor did any of their predecessors listed in the various deeds for "many years" before. "In conclusion, we can find no basis of the claim of ownership by Hagen and Kelder," van Valkenburgh wrote in his report to Friends of the Shawangunks, which was certified with his land-surveying license and official seal.

......Then, two years later, in 1995, in the middle of their failing lawsuit against Karen and Michael, van Valkenburgh and the Friends of the Shawangunks reversed themselves on the issue of whether the phantom Kelder and Hagen property existed. For $37,500, Friends purchased from them the very claim which van Valkenburgh had previously said didn't exist! With that in hand, Friends went back to war with Karen and Michael.

......But in a 1997 decision, State Supreme Court Judge Vincent Bradley ruled that the Hagen-Kelder deed had "no relevance" to Karen and Michael's property because the "Hagen/Kelder quitclaim deed description does not, in fact, cover any of defendants' property and is also void for vagueness."

......This did not stop the Pirates of the Shawangunks. If the Kelder and Hagen deed was pure fluff, then they would take the land by the only remaining method, adverse possession. The conservancy, in its court papers, claimed that Kelder and Hagen had hunted and chopped wood for a full decade on the land, a form of trespassing which they feel gave them the right to steal it from its owners.

......Who exactly is doing this? The links between Friends of the Shawangunks, Mohonk Preserve and other organizations like Open Space Institute are well-established. One is a man named Robert Anderberg, who has been intimately involved with all three organizations for many years. Another is Norman van Valkenburgh, who does all the surveying for Friends and Mohonk. Another is Keith LaBudde, president of the Friends of the Shawangunks; he married into the Smiley family, founders of Mohonk Mountain House, which in turn created the Mohonk Preserve.

......Mohonk Preserve's executive director, Glen Hoagland, when I interviewed him, denied any involvement in the lawsuit, stating that the two conservancies, while sharing many of the same people, are technically separate. But there is rather amazing documentation that emerged in the course of the case that both corporations acted as one entity in commiting some of the more outrageous acts for which they will soon face a separate lawsuit for fraud.

......The current 'adverse possession' lawsuit against Karen and Michael is now in its final stages; this summer, the trial over whether Pirates of the Shawangunks can preserve land by adverse possession is slowly unfolding. Though Judge Bradley already threw out their case, an appeals court sent it back to State Supreme Court for a trial on the specific issue of whether the adverse possession claim was valid. [Note on June 6, 2002: The case was finally dismissed for complete lack of merit, and all appeals are exhausted.]

......Even if it is, does this open the door to a new method of land conservation -- glorified trespassing? Hunting and cutting trees on land you don't own, then claiming it as yours?

......We shall see.++
_________________________
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.

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