October 14, 1929 – JSA to W. G. HOward


  • October 14, 1929 – JSA to W.G. Howard (State Superintendent of Forests)
  • My dear Mr. Howard:

I have just informed you by ‘phone that a house is being erected over the water on land owned by the State in front of Mrs. Hudson’s lot on the east side of Tongue Mountain, Lake George. The framework measures 44 feet long, 18 feet wide and 14 feet up to the eaves. The plan includes another structure added to this and extending north, the upper part of the house to be cut up into five double bed rooms and storage space. The Sanitary Inspector objects and has notified the owner of his objection. The adjoining property owner on the downstream side objects since his drinking water comes from the lake nearby, and both the appearance and the use of the structure are apt to be objectionable.      Since the State has spent several hundred thousand dollars to maintain the natural beauty of this neighborhood, and since the past performance of this particular land owner in cutting a road over state land for erecting a so-called beauty parlor or “studio”, and declining to sign an agreement to keep faith with the State as other property owners have, it seems only fair to the public that this land be appropriated before more extensive improvements are made.

When this state park was created the small camps that were built prior to the State’s action were allowed to remain, the belief being that they were small and the owners so in sympathy with the State’s action in preserving the wild beauty of their vicinity that they did not interfere, but would be taken over later if the situation changed.

I recommended a written agreement, however, that would bind these people to keep faith with the State, and prevent commercial or other uses of their land, at variance with the State’s interest. Your Department wrote to me in substance that the State could not be made a party to such an agreement without an act of the Legislature, and that it was unlikely that the Legislature would limit the freedom of future administrations. I therefore had an agreement drawn up by between the property owners themselves, and nine of the thirteen owners signed it. The agreement was recorded in the County Clerk’s office.

The economics of this situation are plainly shown by the cycle of performance on the Griesman property nearby. This property was bought for $5,000 or $6,000 in 1924 or 1925, and the State Custodian, not being in sympathy with the big purpose being advanced by the State, encouraged the owner of this property to make extensive improvements which were later supervised by this State Custodian’s son, the wild features being replaced by artificial structures including decorations of grave-yard urns on the formal walls along the shores and the erection of a large house on the State land over the water, with living quarters above. After the destruction of the wild beauty, the owner is now tired o f the property and declares that his labors and expenditures have been such that he must get $25,000 for the property. The Hudson property referred to above is going the same way, with the same kind of encouragement locally. No doubt one word of disapproval from your Department would have prevented the developments on both sides of these lots, and again I suggest your Department encourage these owners who have not signed the agreement to do so.

Enclosed you will find photographs of the structure in the process of erection. It would be much better for the owner and more economical for the State, if decisive action could be taken by your Department before the structure is completed.

Very truly yours,