With Andrew Cuomo less than a month out from moving into the Governor's mansion, the battle for his heart and mind regarding Adirondack policy is heating up.
On Dec. 7, Karen Moreau - president of the newly formed property rights advocacy organization, the Land and Liberty Foundation - lambasted the region's state regulatory agencies in a New York Post op-ed.
In the piece, Moreau asserts Adirondack Park Agency and state Department of Environmental Conservation regulations are strangling the life out of Adirondack communities.
She said Dec. 9 although the timing of the property rights onslaught wasn't intended to correlate with the lead-up to Cuomo's inauguration, the advocacy and defense fund organization hopes it will help direct his agenda as it relates to the park.
"It really wasn't intended. It just happened to come about that way," she said. "Although the timing is very fortuitous. Obviously, from the tone of my op-ed, myself and others are hoping that Governor-elect Cuomo will take a very close look at what is happening in the Adirondacks."
Titled "Adirondack Blues," the op-ed reiterates the claim the APA is under direct control of green groups and has instituted a "de facto ban" on development in the park.
And she hopes the public campaign will get the governor-elect's ear.
"I do believe Cuomo is a serious and hard-working person and I have to assume he is paying very close attention to what is happening in the Adirondacks," she said. "The Adirondacks are somewhat a reflection of a good portion of upstate New York. Although the Adirondacks - in comparison - frankly, is on life support."
Moreau even claims the state's failed effort to sell Camp Gabriels is a direct result of potential developers fearing the APA's "wrath."
And she thinks change is needed within the regulatory agencies, particularly the APA.
"New leadership is needed. The person has to be someone who cares about the individual who is standing before them, and frankly, gives as much deference to them as they would any environmental organization," she said. "I know I'm not alone in my opinion that a number of environmental organizations have exerted a great degree of influence over the agency."
For his part, Cuomo has pledged to slash the size of state government and continue Gov. David A. Paterson's review of state regulatory bodies.
Regional officials, like Hamilton County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Farber, have also pitched ideas to grab Cuomo's attention. Farber's concept would have local governments and green groups team up in a show of a unified front and lobby Albany for Adirondack economic reform.
At the same time, green groups are scrambling to sway Cuomo's opinions of Adirondack policy.
Brian Houseal is executive director of the Adirondack Council.
"We are preparing letters to the Cuomo transition team and the governor-elect himself," he said. "Our big objectives are to reform governance and policies for the park so there is environmental protection, but also economic development. And we need policies that will make government more cost efficient."
Cuomo's transition team includes several members of the environmental community and Republican state Senator and vocal APA critic Elizabeth O'C Little, R-Queensbury.