Madison County (NY) officials considering land use from Stockbridge-Munsee Tribe

The Stockbridge-Munsee Tribe is agreeing to cede land to Madison County and New York state in an ongoing negotiation.

Madison County officials signed an agreement Nov. 22 with Gov. David Paterson and Stockbridge-Munsee Tribal President Kimberly Vele, ending a 24-year-old land claim dispute over 23,000 acres of land in the Town of Stockbridge. As part of the agreement, the tribe will relinquish all claims to land in Stockbridge and transfer 122 acres to the school and Briggs & Stratton.

The county, in turn, will hand over 1.84 acres to the tribe to be dedicated as a park. The currently vacant land is located at the corner of Burleson and Peterboro roads in Stockbridge. The agreement states that the tribe will be required to pay taxes on the property and abide by any state and local laws. The land will continue to be taxable unless its conveyed to a non-profit group.

Development of the park must be complete within five years. As outlined in the agreement, the park will commemorate the tribe’s presence in Madison County in the 18th and 19th centuries and be named with that purpose in mind. Minimal parking facilities will be installed, along with an unpaved trail from the parking area to a small area on the hillside, where a bench or table will be installed. An “unobtrusive educational and commemorative display” will also be posted.

Madison County officials have completed their part in the negotiating process with the tribe, but the final say will come from U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. He will also need to approve the proposed gaming compact with Sullivan County before the Wisconsin-based tribe can commence construction of a planned casino in the Town of Thompson.

The Oneida Indian Nation has criticized the agreement as being one that was negotiated behind closed doors. OIN spokesman Mark Emery said copies of the agreements with Madison and Sullivan counties have not been made public.

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