Guy Poulin is a resident of Northville in Saratoga County, New York. His home is on the shore of the Great Sacandaga Lake, a 42 square mile reservoir behind the Conklingville Dam that was created in 1930 at the directive of the Legislature to eliminate flooding downstream on the Hudson River, into which the Sacandaga River carries runoff from part of the Adirondack Mountains and other northern New York areas.
The flow over the dam to the Sacandaga River is regulated by the Hudson River Black River Regulating District Commission, which was established by the Legislature. The legislation creating the water flow regulating system provided that the downstream beneficiary communities the cities of Albany, Troy, Watervliet, etc. pay for the maintenance of the dam and reservoir. Since the dam is also used to generate electric power for the energy grid, the power generating company also pays for the privilege of operating, and this payment to the District comes off the top before payments by the downstream beneficiaries.
For years, the owners of property on the shoreline, which changes with rainfall and draw-down, paid nominal fees for the access across the varying above-water land to the waters of the reservoir. The shoreline owners were considered helpers in the maintenance of the shoreline, removing downed trees and rubbish that could contaminate the reservoir. The local towns, which had experienced great loss when certain populated areas were destroyed for the flooding, benefited by the District paying taxes to them on the basis of assessments of the submerged land.
One day Guy Poulin happened to read the fine print section of the Leader Herald newspaper and found a notice that the access permit fees the landowners paid would go sky high. It turned out that the real estate taxes for the submerged land were to be attributed to the permit holders, contrary to the intent of the Legislature. Guy's work to dig out information, expose the scheme, and to campaign effectively to arouse the property owners is an outstanding example of effective, successful citizen action.