Survey finds public wants state-owned Adirondack lodge preserved

Published: Oct. 25, 2023 at 6:24 PM EDT
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DUANE, N.Y. (WCAX) - A recent public input survey shows people want a historic Adirondack lodge to remain in Duane, giving a boost to efforts in the New York Legislature to give ownership of the lodge to a nonprofit.

“Here you have all of the buildings functions under one roof -- under one structure -- which is a shift from the so-called great camps of the Adirondacks,” explained Erin Tobin with Adirondack Architectural Heritage.

Debar Pond Lodge dates back to the 1940s and was a pivotal moment for cabin architecture, according to Tobin. It was eventually purchased by the state in 1979 and became vacant in 2014, the same year it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

“I have been there. I have visited several times, and quite frankly I fell in love with the place,” said Assemblyman Billy Jones, D-Chateaugay Lake. He says he and other North Country lawmakers have been working for years to pass legislation that would bring a constitutional amendment to voters that would allow the camp to flourish once again. “We have passed it in consecutive sessions on the assembly floor but we have to do that together, so we are going to need passage of it in this coming session and the next session as well.”

If approved, voters would eventually be asked if they would approve a land swap that would include giving the lodge’s six acres to the Debar Pond Institute, a nonprofit that would ensure public access to the site and restore the ground’s buildings. In exchange, the group is offering 400 acres of land that is of equal value.

“If it is determined that the 400 acres is not of equal value to this property here, then there is a commitment that whatever the land exchange is, is a good deal for New York state,” Tobin said. She says a deal will ensure access to one of the Adirondacks’ great camps for posterity. “There is something to be said about that integration of the architecture and the wilderness, and that is part of what we believe contributes to the Adirondacks and makes it so special -- that you have the two working together in harmony.”