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North Elba may take over John Brown site

February 19, 2010
CHRIS KNIGHT, For the News
LAKE PLACID — If the state closes the John Brown Farm State Historic Site, the town of North Elba wants to take it over, town Supervisor Roby Politi said Tuesday.

The Albany Times-Union reported Sunday that the John Brown farm, along with the Crown Point State Historic Site, is on a list of state park and historic sites that could be “closed or curtailed” as part of Gov. David Paterson’s plan to cut the state budget. A Paterson spokeswoman, however, told the Enterprise that the Division of Budget and parks officials are still working on a plan to identify savings and any talk of any park closures is premature.

But the prospect of the state closing the John Brown farm, which is open from May to October, already has local officials looking at options for keeping the site operating.

Politi described the potential closure as an “opportunity,” and said the town could do a better job running the historic site than the state by making it part of the North Elba Park District.

“We’re not going to give up on the John Brown farm,” Politi said. “If the state is going to close it, we will talk to Sen. (Betty) Little and the Legislature to see if they’d consider giving it to the park district.”

Politi said he sent an e-mail to Little on Tuesday outlining the town’s interest in taking over the John Brown farm.

He said he thinks the town can afford to maintain the historic site, and noted that it is located adjacent to the MacKenzie-Intervale Ski Jumping Complex, which is on town-owned land.

“It makes perfect sense for us,” Politi said. “We have a stake in that facility and adjoining lands. If the state doesn’t want do it, we can do a better job.”

Butch Martin, manager of the North Elba Park District, said he believes his crews could easily take over maintenance and operation of the John Brown farm.

“We’d get the right personnel and people in there,” he said. “It’s a pretty nice piece of property with a great trail system. It’s valued by the community, not just because it’s a historic site, but also for outdoor walking. We definitely could do it.”

New York is among several states considering closing parks a year after some were either shut down or had services and staff reductions.

Park advocates and members of New York’s State Council of Parks, a statewide volunteer advisory panel, say they fear scores of the system’s more than 200 parks and historic sites could be closed this summer because of the ongoing budget crisis.

The Associated Press

contributed to this report.



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