Adirondack leaders submit annual legislative priorities
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.
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