Lawsuit claims N.Y. county let snowmobiles use private land as connector trail

Publish Date: 
Jul 28, 2014

LAKE GEORGE, N.Y. – The owner of a local kiddie park is suing Warren County, claiming his rights were violated by snowmobile traffic on a disputed sliver of land beside his business.

An action pending in state Supreme Court seeks to settle the property line dispute while a lawsuit in federal court seeks damages for the claimed civil rights violation.

Jack Gillette, who owns Magic Forest Family Fun Park, states in a lawsuit filed May 12 in the U.S. District Court’s Northern District of New York that Warren County violated his Fifth Amendment due process rights.

Gillette also filed a lawsuit April 30, 2013, in state Supreme Court claiming county officials trespassed and damaged his property and allowed snowmobilers to illegally use it along the Warren County Bikeway.

The lawsuit is the latest exchange in a roughly four-year dispute between Gillette and the county over a sliver of land to the northwest of his theme park’s parking lot.

In 2011, the county decided to allow snowmobiles on a short stretch of the bike path during the winter to connect with a trail that goes east into Washington County.

On May 15, 2012, roughly two years before the filing of the latest lawsuit, the county moved several boulders that set a boundary for Gilette’s parking lot, dismantled Gillette’s gates and cut electrical wires to a Magic Forest sign, Gillette’s attorney, Brian Reichenbach, told the Post Star.

County officials said the boulders were in the county’s right-of-way and were a hazard. Reichenbach said the boulders were never returned to his client.

“It’s not about the dollar value (of the boulders or property damage). It’s more about my client, Jack’s, civil rights and the fact that government representatives came onto his property after he told them in no uncertain terms he did not want them to, and they opened it up to the general public to use his property without going through the court first,” Reichenbach said.