Like many people who enjoy the great outdoor opportunities we have around here, I have on occasion had the audacity to trespass and walk the trails on the hundreds of acres of Glens Falls watershed property in Queensbury. They are great for walking a dog, picture-taking, nature-watching and a good workout.
So when I learned last spring, and later wrote about, that the Glens Falls Water Department was again calling the police on people who dared to walk on this publicly owned "private" property, I was a bit perturbed.
But this sort of crackdown has happened a half-dozen or so times in my tenure around here, someone at the Water Department gets their panties in a bunch and they call the cops for a few months, and then the people who have walked the trails for decades return.
The news that reporter Michael Goot reported last week, that the city was spending money to put cameras around the property to further investigate dog-walkers, was interesting timing.
That's because I happen to remember another article that we published in January 2015, nearly three years ago, about Glens Falls Mayor Jack Diamond's agreement to a "memorandum of understanding" with the town of Queensbury to establish two new public trails on watershed property, including one around Butler Pond, in the area where these cameras are now being sought.
Just Beverages and the town of Queensbury had pledged to assist with much of the construction, funding and planning.
In that January 2015 article, Diamond was quoted as saying “We’re going to have this done before I’m out of office, hopefully sooner."
Well, the mayor has about three weeks left. And instead of access increasing to the watershed, city leaders are further limiting it.
The good news is that, despite the desires of officials from the town of Queensbury desires to get a trail near Halfway Brook going much sooner than has happened, slow progress is being made here. What makes the whole process even more ridiculous is the fact that the trails are for the most part already in place, in the form of watershed access roads.
(A Dec. 14 public meeting has been organized at the West Glens Falls fire station at the corner of Luzerne and Veterans roads to discuss a potential trail created the town of Queensbury from Peggy Ann Road to Hudson Pointe is not related to the watershed property, I'm told.)
Hopefully incoming Mayor Dan Hall will be a voice of reason when it comes to public use of the watershed. With a water filtration plant online now for residents of Glens Falls, there isn't as much as a need to bar people from the land around the reservoirs. Many municipalities allow fishing, hiking and other passive recreation on their watershed property.
If snowmobiles can race around and on these woods all winter, we should be able to walk through them.
-- Don Lehman