They aren’t the “million dollar map” of Warren County airport easements that has been the subject of years of searches, but two Queensbury at-large supervisors have located two engineering maps of the airport that they believe show the easements that are in question.
The engineers’ maps show aviation easements to the northeast of the airport’s shorter, backup runway, in an area where the county has agreed to spend more than $1 million for new easements and property to remove obstructions such as trees.
Queensbury at-large supervisors Mark Westcott and Doug Beaty told attendees at a meeting Monday night that they had located two maps that were produced by engineers, including one by C & S Engineering, the firm the county has had do nearly $2 million worth of work at the airport over the past 10 years, that shows the easement lines.
When finding the maps, Westcott said he and those working with him contacted C & S Engineering to find out what its documentation was for the easement lines.
The C & S engineer indicated that his company’s map was based on a 1991 map produced by now-defunct local engineering firm Rist-Frost Associates.
“If they say that (on the map), they had to have documentation,” Beaty said. “We have a clear pattern and trail that shows easement rights.”
That would seem to be enough to take the issue to court to try and enforce the original easement, Westcott and Beaty said. The county attorney was authorized to take the issue to court in 2005, but no litigation was filed.
The supervisors said they planned to share the maps with the county attorney and administrator this week.
Westcott said the county’s first and likely most inexpensive option should be to try to enforce the initial easement. If that does not work, then new easements — instead of more expensive outright land purchases — should be pursued, and if landowners won’t agree to easements, they can be pursued through eminent domain, Beaty said.
Another option is shortening the runway to do away with the need to remove obstructions.
The “million dollar map” has been dubbed such because the county Board of Supervisors has approved $1.036 million worth of property purchases and easements to replace the easement that was purchased in 1943 but can’t be detailed because of the lost map.
The county would be responsible for 5 percent of the tab, with the remaining funds coming from the Federal Aviation Administration and New York state.
Forty-five or so people attended the meeting at Crandall Public Library, the first of a series of “town hall” meetings that Westcott and Beaty said they plan in the coming months. Among them was Republican congressional candidate Elise Stefanik, who is running for the 21st District House of Representatives seat.
Most of the attendees seemed in favor of the two supervisors’ proposal to go to court to try to enforce the 1943 easement before shelling out money to buy new easements and property.
Kevin Geraghty, the chairman of the county Board of Supervisors, said the information Westcott and Beaty discussed Monday night will be reviewed, but it was unclear to him whether it was new.
But he said County Attorney Martin Auffredou has discussed possible litigation with experts on the issue, who have indicated the county probably wouldn’t prevail in court without the original property map filed with the easement.