State still undecided on lake gate

VALATIE–Rose Street Extension and the proposal for a gate to control access from the road to Kinderhook Lake has surfaced again.

Two years ago the Kinderhook Lake Corporation (KLC), which owns the lake, received a state permit to construct a gate just offshore from Rose Street Extension. The purpose of the gate is to prevent power boats that have not been properly cleaned from launching at the site and possibly releasing invasive species into the water.

But after complaints from some local residents, the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) said last year that it planned to revoke the permit because the Town owns the access road to the lake.

At this week’s Kinderhook Town Board meeting Town Attorney Andrew Howard said that he has confirmed with DEC that Rose Street Extension and its access to Kinderhook Lake are part of a public highway. Whether that settles the gate issue remains unclear, because the corporation filed a lengthy rebuttal with the DEC early last month. The corporation asserts, among other points, that it doesn’t matter who owns the road, the corporation owns the water where the gate would be built.

Kinderhook Lake resident Mary Beth Wallace, an opponent of the gate, attended the June 13 Town Board meeting to say that she had acquired documents through the Freedom of Information Law that the lake cooperation had sent the DEC challenging the reasons why the DEC plans to revoke the permit.

After receiving the permit for the gate the corporation placed the gate posts but put the project on hold after the DEC said last year that old documents brought to the agency’s attention would lead to rescinding the permit. She and other gate opponents want the DEC to meet with local residents before reconsidering the permit.

Mr. Howard said at the meeting that he told the DEC that the town still maintains the road and will continue to do that, making it a public road. He told Ms. Wallace that he didn’t think the DEC was “interested in giving a permit” to the KLC.

In the lake corporation’s letter in May to the DEC in response to the agency’s plan to revoke the corporation’s Freshwater Wetlands Permit, the corporation’s lawyers says that the mission of the KLC, a not-for-profit membership corporation, is to maintain and preserve the Kinderhook Lake. “[The KLC] owns the bed, overflow lands and water rights in and to the lake,” the letter states.

The letter also said that the gate would not block access to the lake. “People with smaller boats, such as rowboats, kayaks, canoes, sailboats and those who wanted to swim, wade, fish, etc. could still enter the lake at the Rose Street Extension location by going in the water around the gate.” The letter says that only large boat users would need to purchase a key to open the gate. Members of the KLC receive keys, and membership ranges from $125 to $200 with a $15 fee for a boat launch key. Membership is open to the public.

The letter does point out that the DEC gave KLC the permit but then planned to revoke it based on information in an application to put up a gate at that spot in 1997. That application was denied and the ruling in that case said that the KLC had not shown evidence of ownership of Rose Street Extension and that section of the lake. A 1998 letter from the DEC, also declining a permit, says that the Town of Kinderhook has the right to use the street.

But the KLC stresses in its 2016 response to the DEC that those earlier applications planned to put a gate across the street, and this new permit proposes a gate in the water anchored on the bed of the lake, which the KLC owns according to surveys the corporation attached to its letter to DEC.

The letter states, that KLC “will show, based on the facts, the law and all the evidence,” that the DEC would revoke the permit in error because the KLC owns the bed of the lake, owns the rights in and to the waters of the lake and overflow land, and owns the land between the lake bed and the high water mark of the lake.

“To the extent the Town of Kinderhook controls any portion of Rose Street Extension its portion of the road as set forth in the NYSDOT Local Road Listing, extends only 0.04 of a mile…and does not run down to the shore of the lake,” the letter states.

The letter and information was submitted to the DEC by local attorney Dave Everett, from Whiteman, Osterman & Hanna.

Ms. Wallace that the Kinderhook Street residents who oppose the gate are being represented by Thomas Puchner, also a local attorney.

The DEC has not issued a deadline for its decision in the matter.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email moc.r1566190952epapa1566190952ibmul1566190952oc@el1566190952adsae1566190952te1566190952.

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