NORTH CREEK — Gov. Andrew Cuomo visited the area Thursday to gather information as he weighs the future use of the state’s latest forestland acquisition in the Adirondack Park.
“It is a judgement that will call for balance — the balance between economic development and preservation of the asset,” he said at a press conference at Gore Mountain Ski Center in North Creek, after he met privately with local government officials and state legislators to discuss the issue.
The state is preparing to classify and manage large tracts of the former Finch, Pruyn & Co. lands the state recently bought from The Nature Conservancy.
The classification, which will be done in sections, will determine how land can be used or not used, including whether motorized access will be permitted.
State Sen. Elizabeth Little, R-Queensbury, who attended the meeting, said local government officials hope the classification will allow for new snowmobile trails, to boost tourism.
The Adirondack Park Agency board, in the near future, will make a recommendation to Cuomo, who will make the final decision.
Earlier on Thursday, Cuomo met in Franklin County with representatives of environmental organizations.
Cuomo did not say how he would prefer the land to be used, only that he is weighing it carefully.
“You have to find that balance and you have to strike that balance. And it’s often easier said than done,” he said.
Town supervisors from Newcomb, Minerva, North Hudson, Indian Lake and Long Lake, the five towns where the property is located, met with Cuomo, along with chairmen of the boards of supervisors of Essex and Hamilton counties.
Newcomb Supervisor George Canon said he was reluctant to say too much about the content of the meeting.
“The tenor was good. He certainly was understanding,” he said.
Little said Cuomo understands the importance of balance.
“I will tell you that he is a master at listening to people, working things out and getting good results.”
It was good to meet directly with the governor, and not “a faceless staff person,” said Assemblyman Dan Stec, R-Queensbury.
“I was impressed with the level of detailed knowledge — the specifics,” Stec said.
Also at the press conference, Cuomo spoke about the state Department of Corrections plan to close Mount McGregor Correctional Facility in Wilton, and three other state correctional facilities, in July 2014.
Area state legislators and New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association, the union that represents correction officers, have asked Cuomo to reconsider closing Mount McGregor.
Cuomo, responding to a question from The Post-Star, said he is willing to listen to the concerns, but it is imperative that prison beds be reduced somewhere in the state to adjust to fewer inmates being incarcerated.
“That is the reality. We have fewer people who are in prison, which means we need fewer prison beds,” he said.
Cuomo said the same basic concerns come up at any prisons across the state.
“We are having an ongoing discussion constantly all across the state,” he said. “But it is the same discussion whenever you pick a prison to close and reduce. ... There is no place in the state where the community says, ‘Please close this prison.’ ”