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Park Service and Friars Will Meet With Schumer on Monday In An Effort To Reach A Compromise

US Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced that he expects the National Park Service and the Franciscan Friars and Sisters of the Atonement at Graymoor to resume talks over the status of an 18 acre parcel of land near the Appalachian Trail later this month.

Previous negotiations reached an impasse last Spring, prompting the Park Service to ask the Department of Justice (DOJ) to begin an eminent domain proceeding against the Friars. Schumer and others have asked the Department of Interior to withdraw the Park Service's request.

"With both the Park Service and the Friars indicating that they want to take another stab at talks, it is clear that a negotiated easement over this land is the preferred way to resolve this dispute," Schumer said. "I want to work with the Interior Department to mediate a settlement so that the Friars can get past this issue."

The Park Service signaled its willingness to resume negotiations after receiving a letter from the minister General of Graymoor, Reverend Arthur M. Johnson,   which asked that the parties make another effort to negotiate a mutually acceptable easement to settle the dispute.   An easement would allow the Friars to retain ownership of the land but would require them to obtain permission from the Park Service before developing on it.

Schumer said that representatives from the Park Service and Graymoor will brief him on the dispute early next week in the hopes of finding a compromise. This briefing will take place in Putnam County and is intended to bring the parties together prior to the resumption of formal negotiations which Schumer expects will begin later this month.

In a letter to Department of Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, Schumer urged the Department to withdraw its request for an eminent domain proceeding and offered to help mediate the dispute "in any way possible to ensure that all the issues and possible remedies are thoroughly explored."

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