September 24, 1929 – JSA to A. F. Saunders (Syracuse) –
You will recall that in 1923 the A.C.A., with three other national organizations and nine State organizations, including the Appalachian Mountain Club, and a number of other societies and people, advocated the State’s acquisition and protection of the wild beauty of the central part of Lake George. Our efforts were only partly successful, the funds made available being limited to the west side, due to the extraordinary back-door influence of the land owner.
We were particularly anxious to bring about permanent protection to the Paradise Bay land on the east side, and make a mainland contact for the adjacent State owned islands that are overcrowded. All efforts to make funds available for this land failed until the passage of the 15 million dollar Park Bond issue of 1925 which contained a five million dollar item for the Forest Preserve. Of this fund there remains unspent about $1,800,000, although recently the Commissioner advised that they have tentative plans for acquiring all the funds. This of course is a convenient mental state of the Commissioner and does not constitute any obligation on the part of the State. No doubt the owners of the land he has in mind would help get new appropriations if necessary, whereas it required three years of hard work to make funds available for this particular land.
The outstanding and urgent features of the situation are that the land is increasing so rapidly in price that it will be out of reach by the State before any future appropriations could be secured, and it is doubtful if we could muster sufficient strength to have any future appropriations made applicable to this land, on account of the owner’s opposition.
It might be well of you to remember that this owner uses the south portion of his property, and the land which the State needs happens to be land which he never uses. The plan is to leave him two miles of shore, all his improvements, roads, buildings, etc., and 5,000 acres of land.
The Conservation Commission is not only backward but very defiant in opposing the State acquisition as we see it, and we who have been close to the situation for several years feel that we have exhausted all friendly efforts and must plan another campaign with the organizations and people who came to our assistance before.
While this is in every way non-partisan, no doubt it will look bad for the present administration since they have had funds available and authority to act since 1925 and they have taken land away from small property owners in this neighborhood, but for reasons bet known to themselves have neglected to take the land from the large land owner, which is more suitable for park purposes and plainly essential to posterity.
In the spring I had a talk and exchanged letters with Acting Governor Lehman. I have the impression that he was honest about the matter, but based his feeling on misinformation given him by Conservation Commissioner MacDonald.
Last week I had a talk with Governor Roosevelt and he seemed sympathetic, but extremely busy, and he has been informed that there are tentative plans requiring all the money available.
Apparently the internal blockade against our efforts is so strong and the Governor so busy that the funds will actually be allocated before we get action, unless we can get word to some of the Democratic machine leaders that we are very serious minded and are preparing to start another major movement.
I appreciate that you, like most of us, are working hard for a living, and may be too busy to take any action, but if you can explain the situation to some Democratic leader, I would appreciate your effort. You will, of course, keep in mind that we should not do anything that will interfere with the action that the Governor might have taken. He seemed very determined to do the right thing and I am quite sure his heart is in the right place, but he will not be back in Albany for six weeks and during that time the funds will be obligated.
With best wishes to you,
Sincerely yours, JSApperson