July 10, 2014

Editorial: Let the people make the call

What’s going on in the Town of North Hudson is a perfect illustration of how the American system is supposed to work.

For those not familiar with Frontier Town, in its heyday many decades ago it was a dream attraction for children, for much the same reasons Disney World is today. Kids could throw on their chaps and cowboy hats and not only witness goings-on in the Old West but be part of them.

But that was many decades ago. The venue’s offerings have since been eclipsed by more modern, more spectacular attractions that are just as accessible by modern transportation.

So Frontier Town sits, decaying, next to Exit 29 of the Northway, nothing more now than an aged reminder of a once-glorious but badly outdated past.

The owner hadn’t been paying taxes on the property, so Essex County took it over and put it up for bid.

Keeseville businessman and philanthropist George Moore put in a bid and won the parcel, only to learn later that the County Board of Supervisors didn’t consider the bid large enough.

He raised his bid, but the Town of North Hudson told the county it wanted the land to help complete some plans for recreation trails.

That made some residents of the town unhappy, as they were concerned that little gain would be made in transferring the title from one government entity to another.

The debate has been complicated and contentious, but from it has emerged what appears to be an satisfactory outcome: The public will, if all goes as it should, get to vote on whether to accept Moore’s proposal or to let the government have its way with the land.

A group of citizens put enough time and effort into the project to gather the required number of signatures on a petition to bring the matter to a public vote. That is the fairest and surest way to achieve a decision that residents can live with.

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