We have repeatedly discussed local planning boards that trash their own (and our) heritage by approving development of battlefields and other historic sites (here and here). Real estate and development interests often stack these boards to guarantee such results. The latest controversy is centered in Lake George, New York where historians and tourists often come to see the site of the battle in the French and Indian War. Farmers rallied at this stop to fight for their homes and many fell and were buried in and around a critical ravine. Despite objections from historians and experts, the town of Lake George (and specifically its planning board) gave permission to businessman Anthony Tomasovic to dump tons of fill and cut down trees to allow him to develop the land. Notably, he has not even stated how he would develop it. The town just opened up the historic site to be filled in and cut down . . . just in case Tomasovic could use some flat land.
The battle involving 1000 British colonial troops and 200 Mohawk allies occurred on September 8, 1755. The ambush is called Bloody Morning Scout or the Battle of Lake George. Colonel Ephraim Williams was sent to reinforce Fort Edward with 200 Mohawk allies and 1,000 troops from the Massachusetts Regiment and the Connecticut Regiment. The French learned of the plan from a dissenter and set up the ambush. Williams and war chief Hendrick Theyanoguin. were killed along with many of their men. However, the rearguard was able to cause substantial losses in the French before the bloody battle was over.
An “Anthony Tomasovic” is listed as a real estate salesperson with Coldwell Banker. If this is the same person, he stated rather oddly that “Being a multi property owner myself why [sic] learn the hard way let me show you the do’s and don’ts of investing.”
This ravine is valued dearly by many because it was not simply the site of the battle, but was the main passage for such Revolutionary figures from Benedict Arnold to George Washington to James Madison to Thomas Jefferson. More importantly, many of the fallen were buried in the area and artifacts have been found all around the area near the surface. In addition to the colonial artifacts, state archaeologists announced that they had discovered 10,000-year-old Native American artifacts just inches below the ground.
None of that matters to the Town of Lake George which does not even need a reason for the development to destroy its own history and beauty. It certainly does not matter to Tomasovic who simply told the media that the whole area is historic so you are always going to be reburying history.
Given the descriptions of the battle, the construction is likely covering over artifacts and possible graves from the batter. It will also forever alter the original look of the ravine. Nevertheless, the planning board approved the destruction without even a clear idea of what Tomasovic would do with the property. However, in December after the press started asking questions, the town’s planning and zoning director sent Tomasovic a letter ordering him to cease fill operations on his property. However, Tomasovic said that he had already finished the work before receiving the letter.
I am more disgusted by the Town and planning board of Lake George than I am with Tomasovic. They have created a monument to the greed and caprice of man. Tons of soil, trees and road debris were dumped on this sacred ground as the town watched. Tomasovic didn’t care so why should they? It is an ironic moment for the area. The people of Lake George were once the witnesses to uncommon bravery and self-sacrifice. They have repaid that legacy with craven greed and self-dealing.
Let’s just call it The Second Ambush of Lake George.
12 thoughts on “The Second Ambush of Lake George: New York Town Approves Businessman’s Plan To Fill In Part Of Historical Site”
Selfie: The Nature Conservancy (TNC) does an outstanding job of preserving and restoring natural areas. TNC can never and will never replace government in that role since only government is big enough to preserve and maintain the vast amounts of wilderness areas needed to maintain the health of the planet.
In fact, the Nature Conservancy often works in conjunction with federal, state, and local governments to identify critical areas of habitat and watershed. Because the amount of land needed for healthy ecosystem function is large and the resources of government are limited, TNC will purchase additional parcels or easements adjacent to state and national parks to increase the area in preservation and reduce habitat fragmentation.
Because the resources of TNC are even more limited than the government’s, it must prioritize it’s expenditures. Increasing the size of preservation, in terms of square acreage, is what matters most. Thus, it would be rare and unusual for TNC to purchase a parcel in an urban or metropolitan setting.
Land preservation is critical for the maintenance of clean air and water, both of which are part of the Commons, those resources which are depended upon by humanity or survival. Therefore, it’s the proper of role of a government to safeguard and preserve those resources for its society. Think of land preservation as the capital investments of We the People. The biggest crisis facing this nation isn’t NSA surveillance, the police state, or even terrorists. It’s water scarcity and it’s coming. You really want to see all hell break loose, just squeeze the supply of clean water. Just ask the Syrians:
Reducing everything to a capitalist transaction in a democracy is unrealistic. We would perish in a world where we only preserved the amount of land the average citizen were willing to pay for. Ecosystem services are undervalued. There was a time when wetlands were viewed as wastes, and the government spent vast amounts to drain and fill them. It wasn’t til near the end of the last century we began to realize they’re actually clean water factories, filtering out more pollutants and sediments than we could economically afford to do ourselves.
Strict capitalism doesn’t work in a democacy; it reduces citizens to mere consumers. In a strict capitalist society, you get the justice you can pay for, not the justice you deserve, and in that kind of world, it’s always the simplest and purest of things people consider last.
Why not let the folks who think this site should be preserved buy it? If it’s their property, then they can preserve it as they wish (at least until the town decides to use eminent domain to take it to sell to a developer to increase the tax base). All too often folks demand that other people be forced to suffer a loss- I prefer the tactic used by the Nature Conservancy, which is to, rather than demand that other people’s property be tied up for a good cause, buy the property and then, as the owner, choose to use it as a preserve. That’s the capitalist way. Note that I am not saying it shouldn’t be preserved- I am saying it’s easy to spend someone else’s money.
The glorification of violence aside, ravines are unique and vastly underappreciated ecosystems that play an important role in watershed protection.
It’s a shame, there were probably a lot of really nice rare plants growing there.
If Indian artifacts can be found then this becomes a violation of Federal Law protecting such sites and I am aware of people actually starting developments and then being prosecuted. One such law that often applies on federal lands is the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979.
… Is there any Federal protection available by declaring the area a national historic site? Or is there no protection with that label?
Nick says there is protection.
I know there used to be.
The National Historic Registry does provide protection.
doglover it’s history. Is the Auschwitz memorial glorifying violence?
Great song clip Dredd.
It is disgusting that any town or city would sell out, but there is a lot of that going on these days. Privatizing city assets for short term balanced budgets. The commons should not be divested by the city officials. It rarely ends well for any city. Is there any Federal protection available by declaring the area a national historic site? Or is there no protection with that label?
And if I recall…. Business in the hands of government is what business wants….. Not government in business…..
It wouldn’t bother me if all glorification of violence is destroyed. Sure men are violent. We don’t need to glorify it.
This hits home. My parents would take us to Saratoga race track in August for a family vacation. The track is very family friendly. They have picnic areas, playgrounds, etc. They allow you to bring in coolers including beer and soda. It is like a county fair. The super rich and blue collar @ the same venue is healthy. Anyway, we would stay in nearby Lake George. My father is the reason I love history. He would take us to all the historic sights. That area brought the Revolutionary and French and Indian War alive to me, it made it more than chapters in a history book, and was an “Aha moment” in steering me to study history. This is a travesty and may both the developer and politicians rot in hell.
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