Resolution came today in the case of Dave Wick. The embattled executive director of the Lake George Park Commission, who was placed on paid leave earlier this month, can now return to his job. The announcement comes after an outpouring of support from public officials and environmental groups.
The Lake George Park Commission confirmed to WAMC Wednesday afternoon that after a period of suspension, Executive Director Dave Wick can return to his post on December 10th.
Wick, who has served in his current role for the past two years, was placed on administrative leave Nov. 18 after the Cuomo administration reportedly called for his termination over failure to report a 1-gallon gas spill over the summer.
The controversy raised questions and drew criticism from local elected officials and environmental advocates, including Republican Assemblyman Dan Stec, who had hoped the pressure on Wick was not of a political nature.
“This is the kind of thing that Americans are fed up with politics over, these kinds of actions,” said Stec.
Eric Siy, Executive Director of the FUND For Lake George, lauded the news of Wick’s return Wednesday afternoon.
“The bottom line is the people spoke and they were heard. They spoke truth to power and prevailed, and it’s a momentous day for the Commission and for Lake George, certainly,” said Siy.
Wick was instrumental in helping establish the mandatory boat-washing program on Lake George. Fully implemented this year, more than 13,000 boats passed through the inspection program. More than 100 were found to be carrying invasive species.
Siy, a member of the Stop Aquatic inVasives from Entering Lake George Partnership, or S.A.V.E., warned if Wick were removed, the momentum in protecting not just Lake George but the entire Adirondacks from invasive species could be in jeopardy.
“The same level of leadership that’s been demonstrated at Lake George with broad support needs to be applied more broadly across the region and around the state, with Lake George really as the test bed, the proving ground, that there is strong public sentiment for doing this, for doing the right thing, and exercising the level of commitment that gives us a fighting chance against invasive species,” said Siy.
A call to the governor’s press office Wednesday morning was not returned. Earlier, spokesman Rich Azzopardi told the Glens Falls Post Star the office would only seek an official’s resignation “if they broke the law.”
S.A.V.E. member Fred Monroe, Town Supervisor of Chester, praised Wick, saying in his previous role as director of the Warren County Soil and Water Conservation District and at the Lake George Park Commission, Wick was able to communicate with and gain support from the public on complex environmental issues.
“Local government and the environmental groups all strongly support Dave, and that’s pretty unusual because much of the time we’re at odds with each other,” said Monroe.
On Friday, the Warren County Board of Supervisors offered their “full support” for Wick. At an emergency meeting of the Lake George Park Commission Friday, the Commission unanimously chose to keep Wick on paid leave.
Dozens of individuals packed into a Commission meeting Tuesday night to speak in support of Wick.
In a portion of the Lake George Park Commission statement quoted on the Post Star’s website, the organization said it would implement the Inspector General’s recommendations including ethics training. The Commission also said it considers questions over Wick’s employment status now closed.