At the start of New York State’s 2023 legislative session, Assemblymember Billy Jones and Senator Dan Stec introduced updated versions of their Debar Pond Lodge constitutional amendment bill, which will facilitate the preservation of the National Register-listed Debar Pond Lodge.
Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH) enthusiastically supports these bills, Assembly Bill 2816 (Jones) and Senate Bill 3030 (Stec), which amends Article 14 of the New York State Constitution to convey land to Debar Pond Institute in order to facilitate the preservation of the historic Debar Pond Lodge. For 20 years, AARCH has advocated for the preservation and public use of Debar Pond Lodge, including writing the site’s successful National Register of Historic Places nomination in 2004.
This legislation responds to the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation’s proposal to demolish the lodge, replacing it a Debar Lodge Day Use Area, following 17 years of ownership during which the buildings were unused. In exchange for adding 400 acres of nearby land to the Adirondack Forest Preserve, approximately six acres of land including Debar Pond Lodge will transfer to the nonprofit Debar Pond Institute, who will provide public programming and educational opportunities at the site.
The constitutional amendment outlined in A.2816/S.3030 will accomplish the following:
- Save the NYS & National Register-listed Debar building complex from destruction
- Allow organizations to use the Debar Pond Lodge for public educational programs, workshops, events, accommodations, and tours
- Increasing the Adirondack Forest Preserve by at least 400 acres in support of NYS’s 30×30 land conservation goal
- Disburse use of the Forest Preserve away from the overused High Peaks region
- Provide jobs and economic benefits to the local area
- Save New York State over $500,000 in demolition and site improvement costs
- Maintain and facilitate public access, including new handicapped access, to Debar Pond and the surrounding Forest Preserve
- Protect the state’s interest in preserving the historic buildings and maintaining the character of the forest preserve through a conservation easement held by NYS DEC
A.2816/S.3030 has the support of a broad-based coalition of local and regional government, historic preservation, environmental, and economic development interests, including Adirondack Wild, Adirondack Diversity Initiative, Adirondack North Country Association, Town of Duane, Franklin County Board of Legislators, Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages, and the Adirondack Local Government Review Board.
We applaud the introduction of these bills and urge the Assembly and Senate to pass them during the 2023 session. Thank you to Assemblymember Jones and Senator Stec for their leadership in introducing this bill and Assemblymember Simpson for his co-sponsorship.