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.