The Adirondack Common Ground Alliance (CGA) is a diverse network of stakeholders focused on addressing issues that affect the Adirondack Park – specifically, though not exclusively, environmental protection, economic development, and community vitality. Our goal is to facilitate dialogue and identify collaborative solutions that improve the Park and its communities for generations to come. Since 2007, CGA has organized an annual forum, yielding an agreed upon set of recommendations for state action referred to as the “Blueprint for the Blue Line.”
In the summer of 2022, more than 190 citizens participated in the 15th annual CGA Forum at Gore Mountain in North Creek. Below is a set of recommendations within five priority themes: housing, vibrant communities, community policing, recreation, and climate change mitigation and adaptation.
- Appoint individuals from different geographical areas within the Adirondacks to the newly-formed Special Joint Legislative Commission on Affordable Housing.
- Increase opportunities for Smart Growth, including possible expansion of hamlet areas and the creation of a feasible Transfer of Development Rights program.
- Support the creation of new county land banks in Adirondack counties through project approvals, technical support, and start-up funding.
- Fund and complete a park-wide inventory of vacant/zombie properties to assess critical needs and opportunities for immediate revitalization zones.
- Identify/pursue funding sources that incentivize employer loyalty programs to promote the hiring of local residents and retention of people living in our communities.
- Create waivers and incentives (such as college tuition assistance, sign-on bonuses, car maintenance assistance, etc.) for direct support services (healthcare, childcare, eldercare) that address some of the unique challenges faced by these industries within the Park.
- The New York Master Plan for the Aging must move beyond meetings, to the implementation of concrete actions that accomplish the rationale stated in the preamble to the Executive Order.
- Secure permanent funding for the Adirondack Diversity Initiative.
- Fully fund police reform training requirements outlined in the New York State Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative.
- Enhance community engagement in the 2023 state budget process.
- Create, develop, and support public transportation networks connecting regional population centers, thereby fostering resilience in local transportation systems.
- Fund local and regional partnerships that promote inclusive and accessible recreation pathways for all people to visit and experience the Adirondacks.
- Invest in the planning and construction of municipal recreation assets that are easy for New York State residents to access, such as small-scale municipal parks and trail-to-town connections.
- Identify and allocate funding to enhance the dissemination of regional recreation information.
- Expand corresponding educational networks to better reach underrepresented groups and support public safety.
CLIMATE CHANGE MITIGATION AND ADAPTATION
- Support natural solutions to climate change by incentivizing sustainable forest management and riparian restoration and protection.
- Provide resources, including increased staffing and circuit riders, for agencies and localities to implement recommendations in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), such as revising agency policies and procedures.
- Foster interdepartmental alignment, collaboration, and cooperation among agencies (i.e. DOT, DEC, Army Corps of Engineers, APA, and local municipalities) to support a resilient and connected landscape for wildlife and people, in line with the goals of the CLCPA, Environmental Bond Act, and federal programs.
- Allocate funding resources for planning and design to prepare communities to apply for funding via the aforementioned programs.
CONTINUING THE CALL TO ACTION: PREVIOUS BLUEPRINT PRIORITIES
CGA lauds state efforts to realize the recommendations put forth in previous Blueprints for the Blue Line, which can be found at commongroundadk.org. There are several recommendations that warrant continued advocacy and further state action to address:
- Expeditiously implement the recommendations outlined in the recently released Upstate Cellular Coverage Task Force Report.
- Fund a demonstration project, which will serve as a vehicle to pursue federal infrastructure and/or Federal Communications Commission funding for cellular deployment.
- Dedicate federal funds to assess the availability, affordability, and reliability of high-speed broadband service in New York state, recognizing that ubiquitous, reliable broadband is necessary to enable equitable access to telehealth, remote learning, and 21st– century work opportunities.
- Revisit the Department of Transportation Right-of-Way Occupancy Fee to make it equitable for rural communities, while considering exemptions for low-population-density areas.
- Provide technical assistance to local governments applying for and administering state grants through programs such as circuit riders, so they can access the diverse array of state programs offered through NYSERDA, DOS, DEC, etc.
- Expand childcare subsidies for working families. Facilitated enrollment already receives funding in the state budget to operate in eight New York counties and New York City. Dedicate an additional $1.5 million to bring this effective program to the Adirondack region. Ensure that American Rescue Plan Act funds reach the Adirondacks to reverse troubling downward trends in childcare availability and, instead, bolster the profession.
- Complete and implement the recommendations of the Adirondack Road Salt Reduction Task Force.
We look forward to helping you advance these and other common goals, including efforts to address environmental justice and foster more diverse, equitable, inclusive, and safe communities for all. To learn more about the Common Ground Alliance, visit commongroundadk.org.
Photo at top: Image courtesy of the Common Ground Alliance.