Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH) enthusiastically supports Assembly Bill 7535A (Jones) and Senate Bill 7868 (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 over 15 years, AARCH has advocated for the preservation and public use of Debar Pond Lodge and put the property on the National Register of Historic Places 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.7535A/S.7868 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
- Enhance the New York State Forest Preserve in the Adirondacks by at least 400 acres
- 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 a half-million dollars or so in demolition and site improvement costs
- Maintain and facilitate public access, including new handicapped access, to Debar Pond and the surrounding Forest Preserve
A.7535A/S.7868 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 2022 session. Thank you to Assemblymembers Jones, Simpson, and Englebright and Senator Stec for their leadership.