Monday, November 23, 2020

Common Ground Alliance releases 2020 Blueprint for the Blue Line

Adirondack leaders submit annual legislative priorities

Following its 13th annual summer forum, the Common Ground Alliance released its 2020 Blueprint for the Blue Line, a set of suggested legislative priorities for the Adirondacks.

The Blueprint is intended to advise New York state’s executive and legislative leaders on issues of importance to the people of the Adirondacks and suggest how state government might go about prioritizing regional investments.

For thirteen years, citizens of the Adirondacks with diverse opinions and affiliations have come together in July to candidly and respectfully discuss the most pressing issues facing the Park, and its residents, visitors and communities. Organized by the Common Ground Alliance, one of the main goals of the summer forum is to identify and explore areas of overlapping interest among participants. When possible, those conversations are distilled down to actionable items and specific requests for the state, as laid out in the annual Blueprint.

The 2020 forum was different from past forums in at least three major ways. Like most everything else this year, it was conducted virtually. It also focused, for the first time, on the singular topic of attracting a new generation to the Adirondack Park. And it was held during a period of national tumult, at the intersection of a pandemic, simmering racial tensions and violence and a chaotic election cycle.

Nevertheless, more than 200 people attended the virtual forum and helped identify four primary opportunities for state investment. The 2020 Blueprint is focused exclusively on those state actions with the greatest potential to mitigate the disastrous effects of the COVID-19 pandemic while, at the same time, attracting new Adirondack residents and businesses.

Cellular and broadband deployment 

While this is not the first time the Common Ground Alliance has put forth a request of this nature, it is increasingly clear that cellular and broadband service are essential for remote education, telemedicine, public health contact tracing and business development opportunities.

Childcare

Overall, the Adirondack region is considered a childcare desert. Access to additional high-quality childcare is essential for economic and family health, and an imperative for young families considering relocation to the area.

Extend funding for the Adirondack Diversity Initiative

In its first year, the Adirondack Diversity Initiative’s work addressing structural racism has only gained urgency. Demand for the organization’s services has surged as subsequent incidents within Adirondack communities revealed the depth of intolerance here.

Expand funding to deal with increased use of the High Peaks

Concerns over the health impacts of COVID-19 have resulted in a substantial and unanticipated increase in use of the lands and waters of the Adirondack Park. The High Peaks were already displaying problems associated with use in excess of carrying capacity, and the pandemic has magnified these problems considerably.

The full 2020 Blueprint for the Blue Line can be reviewed at commongroundadk.org. It will next be delivered to lawmakers and state agency leaders in Albany.

The Common Ground Alliance also partnered with the Northern Forest Center this year to produce a strategic roadmap for municipalities working to attract a new generation of residents to the region. That publication will be released later this year.

Almanack file photo

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3 Responses

  1. Naj Wikoff says:

    I understand the goal of the gathering was to identify actions and policies that will attract new generation of residents to our region and and help establish businesses and strengthen existing ones. What seems to be missing is addressing affordable housing, strengthening our medical and public health resources which includes attracting doctors, strengthening our educational and cultural resources, the latter trying to hang on by their fingernails, and providing training in online advertising, marketing and sales as a way of strengthening business, be it by the individual craftsperson or business of any size.

    • Big Burly says:

      Great comments Naj … focussed on elements that help folks already here that will also be attractive to newcomers. BTW wondering if this assembly, increasingly missing participation by private sector leaders, has taken account of the huge rise in real estate transactions this year?

  2. Vanessa Banti Vanessa says:

    All of the above suggestions and Najs comment are great…but I want to point out that broadband is the mission critical element that everything else depends on. I don’t have a landline or cable, I can live without cell service (but certainly not ideal), but there are extremely few people that can live without the internet. Especially for small business owners – most consumers are now reached primarily online.

    If the region gets internet access sorted out, progress will be possible on all other fronts.

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