Friends and colleagues mourn death of ‘Adirondack icon’

Courtesy of the Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board.

Fred Monroe is remembered for his dedication to local government, his advocacy for property rights

By Tim Rowland

Fred Monroe, a passionate advocate for private property rights and longtime local government leader, died on Friday at the age of 76. According to friends and colleagues, he was being treated for cancer.

A lawyer who grew up on an island in Loon Lake in the town of Chester, Monroe had an unwavering love for the Adirondacks, friends have said.

“Fred was a really tall man, respected by all, and an Adirondack icon for those who live in the park,” said Ron Moore, former supervisor of North Hudson and current member of the board who worked with Monroe on the Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board. “He was a mentor to many he worked with, a friend, a brother. He was a man who cared deeply about the Adirondacks and the people who lived here.

Over the years he has held a number of influential positions in the park, including as Supervisor of the Town of Chester for 24 years, Chairman of the Warren County Board of Directors and Chairman of the Review Board. of the Adirondack Local Government from 2005 to 2018.

He was one of the founders and former chairman of the Adirondack Fairness Coalition, formed in opposition to the recommendations of Governor Mario Cuomo’s Commission report on the Adirondacks in the 21st Century.

He also believed that state land use laws as they applied to the park amounted to an illegal taking of private property without compensation. Jerry Delaney, who succeeded Monroe in late 2018 on the Local Government Review Board and as his representative as a non-voting member of the APA board, said he recalled the dilemma of his friend and mentor when he was first appointed to the agency. “He said, ‘As a lawyer, I have to follow the letter of the law, but I don’t believe in the law.’ “

Yet it was a wireframe that he was skillfully able to walk. “The Local Government Review Board doesn’t think the APA should be abolished,” he wrote in a 2010 editorial. “We think the APA needs to be stopped and its governing law revised.”

Monroe has been instrumental in a number of initiatives that have benefited all segments of the public. “No one really knows how much Fred has been able to accomplish,” Delaney said. “He cared deeply for the Adirondacks and he cared deeply for their people. “

Although he represented private landowners at the heart of some of the most controversial periods in APA history, Monroe preferred meticulous research and scholarly argument to angry confrontations and loud voices.

“He was a force on behalf of the Adirondack communities and his tireless efforts to block invasive species have made a real difference in the park. He will definitely be missed, ”wrote current APA board chair John Ernst in an email.

“I came to respect him, even though it took a long time,” said Dave Gibson, Managing Partner of Adirondack Wild. Gibson said he didn’t agree with Monroe’s point of view or data sets, but admired his preparation and camaraderie. “I came to love going to meetings with him,” Gibson said. “He had a sharp intelligence and wit and he didn’t mind being seen” with an environmentalist.

And sometimes Monroe and environmentalists were on the same side, said Willie Janeway, executive director of the Adirondack Council.

“Fred Monroe was a leader in efforts to prevent aquatic invasive species from entering Adirondack Lakes, and a leading voice for park priorities and local residents,” Janeway said in an e- mail. “Smart, knowledgeable and respectful, Fred focused on problems, law and solutions, not on the spotlight. His positions on issues have evolved as new information has emerged, and he has helped others, including myself and the Adirondack Council, evolve and improve our positions on issues as well.

Delaney said Monroe loved the forest and enjoyed hunting and flying seaplanes. As a child, he helped his father demolish a crumbling hotel on Loon Lake Island and used the materials to rebuild rental cabins, according to his Earth and Freedom Foundation Biography.

Monroe graduated from Siena College with a degree in physics, later becoming an Air Force officer, subsequently receiving a top secret security clearance, performing a classified mission in Pago Pago, Samoa, and supporting recovery operations. for the crews of the Apollo 13 and 14 moon landing missions.

After earning a law degree from Syracuse, he returned to the Adirondacks, often defending private landowners who he said were being treated unfairly by the state.

“He was a man who dedicated his life to making these Adirondacks a better place to live for all,” said Moore, “and what he accomplished, his legacy, will have an everlasting effect on all who live here.”

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