The docks at Grassy Point near Beaver River Station
Call the detectives. Call the cops. Pray for divine intervention. Or better yet, defend yourselves; defend your fellow citizen’s rights to not have their property taken away from them… please. If for no other reason then you; your town, may be next.
A state may just be about to commit murder.
Quick quiz: New York State floods a reservoir and obliterates the only road access to a town. Over a century, especially after rail service stops and never fully starts again, deals are made: gentlemen agreements; verbal and otherwise, for town folk to park and store boat trailers in the closest town to Beaver River Station. Property owners use their own boats. Further accommodations are made; a barge business grows that helps the property owners take their cars over to town; lessening the booming storage and parking lot problem in the summer.
For many, many years this give and take continues between the state and the town folk. Property is bought, sold: investments made… all with the understanding that the state will allow the property owners access to their own property.
Gentleman’s agreements that have been honored for more than half a century.
A year or so ago a new sheriff rode into town when Terry Perkins, the old Ranger retired. Meanwhile the State through the DEC has decided that parking and storage in Stillwater; parking that Beaver River Station property owners have used for well over 50 years as a means to access their property, can no longer be used by property owners for more than two days. Campers who sign up for free campsites all up and down the reservoir on state land can use the parking and trailer storage for two weeks. We can’t.
They also want our docks gone. Again: state land, but state land that has been used for this purpose by mutual agreement for well over 50 years.
And the barge that takes pressure off parking and storage? Since it lands on state land, the barge business must stop… despite the fact there are other businesses that use state land. According to the Thompsons, who own and run the barge, the state position is that state land is never to be used to access private property. In a Forever Wild wilderness area; where new construction is pretty much verboten, essentially, effectively, this takes the use of private property out of the owner’s hands. Access that was denied by the state to begin with by flooding the reservoir area.
There could be one more reasonable way to get to Beaver River Station. There are train tracks going through the town. They were abandoned during the early sixties and long made promises to bring the tourist-based train into town have faltered over the years. And, to slam another nail into the coffin, the state is reconsidering whether to support that venture at all.
Essentially; effectively, murdering a town.
My family has a long history in the Adirondacks. My grandfather Earl, my great… and great, great grandfathers Silas and Andrew were Adirondack guides. So was my father. They would guide hunting parties through the woods and helped find those who lost their way: sometimes in hideous conditions, like when temps dip below -40 and then stay there for a week or more.
This goes back to Stillwater was “Stillwater:” before it was flooded and known as Beaver River Flow, or “The Flow.” Some of us still call it that. Bears would hunt for food, beaver build dams and huts, deer would graze as logs headed down The Flow.
Back then the state and the locals worked together. Even the national government got into the act with CC camps. Despite all these years of cooperation and accommodations, on both sides, suddenly the state is no longer interested in providing some easement for access: access they took away to begin with. We are inconvenient to police and rangers: inconvenient to monitor, to manage.
The most likely analogy here puts the State in a very bad spotlight. Like any oppressor, the State seems to have decided we; property owners: taxpayers who receive damn near zero services for those taxes, are the enemy. We are to be denied access because the state finds past agreements and accommodations made over damn near a century to be “inconvenient.”
There’s a little ruling New York State seems to consider insignificant that decided a national election. It’s called “equal protection.” New York, through their representatives, have decided that Beaver River Station can be singled out as a town unworthy to exist anymore; property owners… taxpayers… have no rights especially when it comes to the value and access to said property, even though the state destroyed access to begin with.
Sounds very problematic when it comes to “equal protection” to me. It’s like they came to your town, cut off all the roads and demanded you stay for only two days even if you do manage to get there. Yet no other town has to suffer from such. Wouldn’t you call that “unequal protection?”
Another claim by the State is the barge can’t be allowed because they are doing business on state land, a claim that disregards this is selective enforcement against the barge. There are other businesses doing business on state land.
If this stands then, essentially, property owners in Beaver River have not just been told to go to the back of the bus; but to give their money to the state and then get the hell off the bus leaving their property value behind. Of what value is property that can only be accessed on a reasonable basis by a rough eight mile trail, seaplane, or train tracks that have a off and on history of usage? Tracks that New York State itself is currently deciding whether to continue funding for and where promised service has yet to serve Beaver River Station: after many years?
The State allows storage of boat trailers and parking so property owners can access their property for many, many years. Then pulls it away. Allows a barge. Pulls it away. Perhaps the railroad might work, if we disregard the lesson Charlie Brown never learns when confronted with Lucy and the football.
I keep hearing that the State can do anything it wants. I suspect the Supreme Court; especially in its current incarnation, may think otherwise. Being one who has disagreed a lot with that court recently, I do think legally this could be pursued to the full extent. I believe the fact that the State keeps claiming it wants to “work this out” means they know they are on legal quicksand. My past experience with state power and property is that if they feel they are on firm ground they simply take what they want: with a sneer on their face.
So maybe it’s time to shove back?
Maybe so, but if not, the next time your somewhere and you hear these words…
“This is a stickup.”
It may be your state holding all the guns and making the threats.
Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 30 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks and into the unseen cracks and crevasses that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
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