Almanack Contributor Mary Thill

Mary Thill

Mary Thill lives in Saranac Lake and has worked alternately in journalism and Adirondack conservation for three decades.


Thursday, April 2, 2009

Homegrown Adirondack Paddle Porn

Spring = snowmelt = big rivers = paddle porn. Snowmobilers had their spread in February; now whitewater gets equal time.

Most of these linked videos were made by Lake Placid-based Split Rock Video, which travels widely for fast water and film. This ultimate crash and burn highlight reel features the North Country’s own Black and Moose Rivers alongside the Zambezi and Gauley.

Here is some “classic old school” river running.

A bad swim on the Oswegatchie River.”

An even worse day on the Oswegatchie ends with a broken back.

The conquered-but-still-insane Split Rock Falls on the Boquet River.

Creekin’ on Johns Brook, in Keene, might not look quite as hard, but what the camera doesn’t show is that small streams like these offer few exits.

And lastly, another montage for the rafters: “2007 Hudson River Highlights.”

If you want to know when flows are at optimum levels, gauge data and timing of dam releases in the Hudson and Black River watersheds can be found at the Hudson River-Black River Regulating District Web site.


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Update: The Point on Upper Saranac Lake

The apparent demise of Everlands will not affect the luxury resort the Point, a management official said today.

“Everlands is back-burnering itself” during the economic slump, confirmed David Garrett, president of Garrett Hotel Group, based in Vermont. The Garrett Group manages the Point, on Upper Saranac Lake, and owns Lake Placid Lodge, a separate Great Camp–style resort on the shore of Lake Placid.

Garrett said the Point will remain open to guests no matter what happens to Everlands, a start-up that planned to assemble a global collective of 45 exclusive properties in protected natural settings. Since it launched in 2007, Everlands acquired six lodgings, according to its Web site. The London Times reported it had attracted only 60 members out of a goal of 1,800, later lowered to 900. Memberships were to cost $1 million but were available to early birds for half that amount. Everlands has not returned calls seeking comment. The Point will continue to operate as a hotel, as it had in the past, not a fractional ownership.

The Garrett Group sold the Point in 2007 to “a group of founding members of Everlands, separate from the actual Everlands entity,” Garrett explained. He said the sale was carefully structured to “protect” the Point should the Everlands concept not prove viable.

The Point will be closed in April, as it always is, and will reopen in May.


Monday, March 30, 2009

Adirondackers Getting Old Fast

A certain Almanack editor turned 43 over the weekend, reaching the average age of an Adirondacker. But in this respect, the Adirondacks is anything but average.

Elsewhere in New York State and most other parts of the country the average age is more like 31 or 35, says Brad Dake, coordinator of a new comprehensive statistical study of the Adirondack Park. It’s no surprise to people living here that young people often leave to find work. But what surprised Dake is the number of older people who have moved to the park.

“This inmigration is causing a rapid aging of the population. We could almost find ourselves at the level of western Florida in two decades,” Dake says. Almost every Adirondack community has a handful of new-ish residents in their 40s, 50s and 60s who have made their money elsewhere and decided to move here for a lifestyle change, he says. Collectively they form a demographic wave. Three decades ago the average age in the Adirondacks was 31. “The Adirondack age is growing at a pace of four years per decade, which is astounding. That is cause for at least curiosity, if not alarm,” Dake says.

This nugget of information is one of many to come from the Adirondack Park Regional Assessment Project, a two-year study of infrastructure, education, land use, geography, demographics and government services in every town in the Adirondack Park.

The study originated with the Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages (AATV), which will publish a final report of about 70 findings on its Web site around April 15. Other participants include the Adirondack North Country Association and the LA Group, a Saratoga-based consulting firm. Dake, who is chairman of the Arietta planning board, took an interest in the project and helped obtain a $93,000 grant from the Department of State. AATV provided $20,000. The partners previewed their findings at a meeting of local government officials in Lake Placid last week.

Some other numbers:

— 40 percent of private land parcels are owned by people or companies in zip codes outside the park
— 76 percent of land inside the Blue Line is protected from development
— After subtracting steep slopes, wetlands and unsuitable soils, 15 percent of the park remains for building (much of it already built)
— There has been a 31 percent drop in school enrollment over 30 years
— There has been a 40 percent increase in the number of teachers
— 44 percent of Franklin County workers are employed by government
— One out of 26 park residents lives in a correctional facility (5,125 out of 132,000)

Dake says the partners have tried to avoid interpreting the data or making recommendations so that people don’t think the numbers are twisted to suit an agenda. “If we’re going to be talking about what the park already is, we’ve got to start talking in terms that everybody understands,” he says.

Map from Adirondack Park Agency cart room.


Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Point’s Parent Company Overextended?

Everlands, owner of luxury resort the Point on Upper Saranac Lake, is said to have suspended operations.

Everlands is a fledgling collective of exclusive nature-oriented estates around the world, but its members-only concept has not gotten off the ground.

The Point, a former Rockefeller great camp, was the first lodging Everlands bought, in 2007. Since then the company has acquired five more properties in the United States and New Zealand and has options of four others, according to its Web site.

Much of Everlands’ capital came from Lehman Brothers investment bank, which was liquidated last fall after buying deep into the subprime mortgage market. According to NewWest.net, an online Montana news source, Lehman committed $55 million in backing. One of Everlands’ properties was historic Lone Mountain Ranch in Big Sky, MT.

Everlands advertised that a one-time fee of $475,000 plus annual dues of $40,000 would provide members with “all amenities, such as world-class dining, fine beverages, local transportation, and a broad array of sports instruction, equipment and outdoor adventures” at — eventually — 45 properties around the world.

“So far, ‘approximately 60’ of a projected 900 (readjusted recently from the original target of 1,800) members have bought into Everlands,” the London Times reported in February.

A telephone call to the Point Sunday was directed to the voice mail of its management company, Garret Hotel Group, based in Vermont. A call to Everlands’ public relations firm was not returned.

The Point has continued to accept non-member guests since it changed hands two years ago. Julian Hutton, who heads hotel operations for Lifestyle Development, the parent company of Everlands, told NewWest that Everlands’ properties will remain open — to all guests, or at least to those who can afford at minimum $1,350 for a night at the Point.

As for those who purchased memberships, “a 15 percent deposit is required by each Member at the time of commitment, which will be returned with interest if initial Membership goals are not achieved,” the Everlands Web site states.

The defunct Lehman Brothers is said to have lost $40 million on a different Adirondack resort whose ownership fell to the lender in 2008: Whiteface Lodge. The four-year-old, 85-suite property in Lake Placid has a complicated fractional ownership structure. According to the Lake Placid News, Whiteface Lodge is contesting its assessed value, trying to get it reduced from $109 million to just $2 million. Despite reported slow timeshare sales, the lodge continues to operate as a hotel and is open to the public.


Saturday, March 28, 2009

Keeping Adirondack Skies Dark

From space the Adirondack Park is a dark spot in the Northeast, but even here outdoor lighting is starting to bleed into the night sky.

Tonight between 8:30 and 9:30 people around the world are turning off their lights to try to raise awareness about climate change. It’s also an opportunity to think about those lights.

Tonight’s dark-out is called Earth Hour. The movement began in Sydney, Australia, in 2007 when 2 million households and businesses shut out the lights to send a message about overuse of fossil fuels. The gesture grew into this year’s global effort.

Meanwhile the International Dark Sky Association estimates that two out of three people in the United States cannot see the Milky Way because skies have become obscured by light pollution.

In the Adirondacks, astronomers are raising funds to build an Adirondack Public Observatory for stargazing in Tupper Lake. That’s one reason village planners there are encouraging “good neighbor lighting” that doesn’t stray upward or across property lines. The municipal electric department has also been installing more efficient streetlights for several years.

“We are installing full-cutoff lighting throughout the village to help put the light down on the ground instead of out and around,” said John Bouck, electric superintendent. “Our results have been good. We’re continuing on with the process. There are expenses involved so we’re doing it over a three- to five-year period.”

“An added benefit of this type of light fixture is that there is less sky glow that most people are used to seeing as they approach a community,” added Marc Staves, chief lineman as well as president of the proposed observatory. “In fact it’s about 40 to 50 percent less as compared to areas that do not use this type of lighting.”

Tupper is experimenting with photocell lights that turn themselves off halfway through the night when very few people are awake. If they test well, the lights will be installed on every other pole in selected areas, Staves said.

The observatory was originally planned adjacent to the Wild Center, but there was too much glow from the nearby headquarters of Sunmount Developmental Disabilities Services Office, a state agency. So the observatory site was moved to the darkness on another edge of town. But light pollution is a curable problem, as Tupper Lake has figured out. Community awareness there continues to grow, household by household.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Sweet Stuff to Do This Adirondack Weekend

Birder, Audubon field editor and field-guide author Kenn Kaufman will speak about our migratory birds at 3 p.m. Friday at the Wilton Wildlife Preserve & Park office, 80 Scout Road in Wilton. It’s outside the Blue Line, but we know some Adirondack birders who are heading south to hear Kaufman. Talk is free but seating is limited, so pre-register by calling Wild Birds Unlimited at 226-0071.

Squeaker, Louie and Squirt are celebrating their birthdays with a party at the Wild Center in Tupper Lake Sunday. At 10:30 the otters will have an Easter egg hunt, and at 2:30 they’ll eat cake. In between there’s cake for people as well as otter-related storytimes, videos and art projects.

There will be good music along the East Branch Ausable River Friday night. Crown Point’s own Silver Family plays bluegrass at the Amos and Julia Ward Theatre in Jay at 7 p.m. (admission $5). And Willsboro’s own Hugh Pool plays bluesy rock and rocking blues at the Recovery Lounge in Upper Jay at 8 p.m. (donations accepted).

Doomers like to have fun too. A new group called Tri-Lakes Transition is launching a Wake Up Film Festival on Friday with The 11th Hour, narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio. The documentary explores the perilous state of the planet, and how we can change course. 7 p.m. at the Saranac Lake Free Library.

In Blue Mountain Lake, the Adirondack Lakes Center for the Arts will hold a Ukrainian Easter Egg (Pysanky) workshop with Annette Clarke Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Our friend Betsy, who knows things, says, “It’s not for kids but the real deal with Ukrainian dyes, etc. Like batik with hot wax and cool tools but harder than you’d think.” Cost is $25. Visit the center’s Web site for more information.

It’s Maple Weekend Part II: The Far North. Festivities that began last week expand to reach the top of the state, where the trees are finally waking up. “The goal of Maple Weekend is to share the real taste of the mouth-watering maple syrup with the public while also demonstrating the various ways to make it,” the New York maple producers association says. And it’s free. For a list of participating producers, see mapleweekend.com.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

5 Questions: Old Forge’s Eric Johnson, Northern Logger Editor

Q. How old is The Northern Logger?

A. It started in the 1940s as a newsletter for logging camps in the Adirondacks and around the Northeast. The founder was the Rev. Frank Reed, who wrote Lumberjack Skypilot. He would include things like who’s cooking at what camp, and which camps have TV or radio. It evolved into an independent trade magazine of the Northeastern Loggers Association and today has a paid circulation of 11,000 from Minnesota to Maine and Missouri to Maryland.

Q. How are Adirondack loggers faring in this economy?

A. The forest products industry is a commodities business so it’s always been subject to large ups and downs. People in this industry are accustomed to doing other things when the woods product business goes in the tank. With that said, this is a serious recession; it’s hard to find alternatives. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Classic Adirondack Architectural Detail

A friend e-mailed to say he had been visiting with a 94-year-old doctor who had a home in Speculator with rough-cut siding. The two had been trying to remember what those clapboards were called and brainstormed until one of them finally came up with it: “brainstorm.”

Even if you didn’t know the name, if you know the Adirondacks you know what they were talking about: those uneven-edge boards on buildings across the park, also known as wavy-edge, bark-on, pig-pen or just Adirondack siding.

The brainstorm creation myth is that the unplaned, untrimmed siding was invented in 1907 by master builder Ben Muncil when he was building White Pine Camp on Osgood Pond, in Paul Smiths. White Pine director and Adirondack historic preservation expert Howard Kirschenbaum, who co-wrote an article on the subject for Adirondack Life in 2005, offers another theory that would give the credit to architect William Massarene.

“Wavy-edge siding actually dates back several centuries in southern England, where it is called waney-edge or weatherboarding,” Kirschenbaum wrote. “Massarene took the grand tour of Europe after graduating from engineering school, extending his knowledge of architecture and, as he revealed in a later interview, gathering ideas for building projects, such as the soaring asymmetrical rooflines he designed for White Pine Camp.”

Whether Muncil or Massarene conceived the idea, Kirschenbaum says the siding was probably manufactured for the first time in North America in Paul Smiths. “Brainstorm” was a buzzword in 1907 (during the sensational murder trial of another architect, Stanford White, the suspect claimed in his defense that he’d suffered a “brainstorm”), and perhaps excited by the suddenness or force of the notion, the architect and/or builder borrowed the term.

Rustic resort developer Earl Woodward used the style widely in the southeastern Adirondacks, though he didn’t taper the boards and it’s almost always called Adirondack siding down there, Kirschenbaum’s co-author Tom Henry discovered.

To this day it’s still believed that Adirondack sawmills produce more brainstorm or Adirondack siding, tapered or flat, than anyplace else on the continent.


Monday, March 23, 2009

A New Ski Business Plan for Hickory

While negotiations continue over Big Tupper Ski Area, whose reopening hinges on a 625-lot residential development, a different group of investors is pursuing a condo-free strategy to resurrect Hickory Ski Center in Warrensburg.

“My initial interest in Hickory was in its history (founded by a WWII member of the 10th Mountain Division) and reputation as a challenging hill (notwithstanding its small size),” Bill Van Pelt IV said in an e-mail.

Van Pelt, a financial planner from Saratoga now living in Texas, is leading several shareholders and Hickory board members in trying to come up with a new business plan for the old-school mountain, which has 1,200 feet of vertical drop, 17 trails, two Poma lifts, a T-bar and a rope tow.

Operating private ski areas has proven a challenge in the Adirondacks, so the group is trying to come up with a viable game plan.

“Mad River Glen provides an example with which I am personally familiar,” Van Pelt wrote. “I made an early, conscious effort not to tackle the problem with real estate development as a component of the plan. That reflects my personal preference (I don’t like golf courses with houses on them either) and, coincidently, the culture of Hickory and its board.”

Mad River Glen, in Waitsfield, Vermont, is proudly skier-owned and natural — no snowmaking. [Post-deadline correction: there is a modest system with two guns that supplments a fraction of the terrain.] Shareholders are trying to decide whether they should leave Hickory’s snow cover to nature or modernize with a snowmaking system and a chairlift.

Either way, Van Pelt told the Glens Falls Post-Star that the mountain will reopen next season after several years in limbo. He and other board members are receiving enthusiastic e-mails from former Hickory skiers and soliciting their suggestions via [email protected]

The only other privately owned ski area still running in the Adirondack Park, Royal Mountain in Caroga Lake, hosts motocross races in summer to make ends meet. Big Tupper Ski Area, in Tupper Lake, has been closed for a decade; a consortium of Philadelphia-based investors proposes to make skiing the centerpiece of a vast high-end development and say the slope is otherwise not financially sustainable. Oak Mountain recently went into bankruptcy but was run this winter by the village of Speculator.

Map from New England Lost Ski Areas Project.


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Tupper Lake History for the People

Two important sources of local history in Tupper Lake are becoming easier to find.

Louis Simmons’s Mostly Spruce and Hemlock, the classic history of the village of Tupper Lake and town of Altamont (also called Tupper Lake since 2004), will be reissued soon. Hungry Bear Publishing is working with Tupper Lake’s Goff-Nelson Memorial Library to produce a new edition of the 1976 book.

“In more than 30 years since it was published, Louis’s book has achieved cult status in Tupper Lake,” Hungry Bear publisher Andy Flynn said in a press release.“I’ve always said that, next to the Bible, Mostly Spruce and Hemlock is the most-read book in Tupper Lake.”

Because only 2,000 copies were printed, Spruce and Hemlock has become collectible and costly. The new edition will be paperback and an index will be added. Proceeds will benefit the library.

Louis Simmons was editor of the Tupper Lake Free Press 1932-1979. He continued to write for the paper and served as Tupper Lake historian until his death in 1995. William C. Frenette, Simmons’s nephew and another Tupper native deeply fascinated by his home region, took over as historian. He also wrote an entertaining column on local life and history for the Free Press.

Frenette died in 2007 but now his “Transitions” columns can be read again at a new Web site, tltransitions.com.

Here are a few words from Bill Frenette, for the season:

“There is an old saying: ‘Spring is the reward for those who live through the winter.’ How do we know that spring has arrived? Let’s count the ways: my neighbors, Jackie and Al Smith, are back from Florida looking trim and healthy; Charlcie Delehanty has reported seeing two immature and one mature bald eagles as the river opens near the sorting gap; Jessie’s Bait Shop has stored their ice augers and hung out their “Maple Syrup For Sale” sign in front of their newly updated fishing equipment; and geese can be seen feeding happily on Mary Burns’ front lawn along the the Raquette River, recently freed of ice.”

Photograph of L.C. Maid, Charles Knox, Howard Brown and unidentified man on a boat ride. Courtesy of Goff-Nelson Memorial Library, Tupper Lake.


Thursday, March 19, 2009

ADK Music Scene: Weekend Music Picks

Mike and Ruthy play Bluseed Studios in Saranac Lake at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Michael Merenda and Ruth Ungar Merenda, who live in the Catskills, toured seven years with indie string band the Mammals before striking out on their own last year. “With a repertoire of old-timey twang, topical folk, and just plain love songs, their heartfelt vocal duets intertwine with lively fiddle & banjo,” the Bluseed Web site says. Tickets are $14.

Also Friday, at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts, violinist Mark O’Connor headlines a Hudson River Quadricentennial concert. O’Connor, who is classically trained but inspired by American folk, is joined by clarinetist Don Byron — who fuses jazz, classical and soul — and violinist Daniel Bernard Roumain, who’s into classical and hip hop. The three composer/musicians “have created new music inspired by the past, present and future of the Hudson River Valley.” Tickets are $15. The show starts at 8 p.m.

On Saturday at the Waterhole in Saranac Lake, Lazar Bear Productions presents Toronto-based Celtic rock band Enter the Haggis. Tickets are $18 in advance or $22 at the door. The show starts at 8 p.m.

OK, not music, but Academy Award–nominated writer and director Courtney Hunt will introduce a showing of her movie Frozen River, filmed in Plattsburgh. 8 p.m. Saturday at Willsboro Central School. Tickets $5 for adults, $2 under 18.

For more weekend ideas, North Country Public Radio has the region’s broadest online calendar of events.


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Spring Adirondack Wildflower Bloom Dates

Elsewhere in the Northeast, wildflowers are tentatively testing the air, while in the Adirondacks it’s still ski season. It won’t be long, though, till coltsfoot raises its fuzzy yellow head along roadsides.

Two of this region’s most-observant botanists made a study of when each native flower reappears in spring. The late Greenleaf Chase retired from the Department of Environmental Conservation but never tired of guiding friends to see rare blooms in rare places. Professor Mike Kudish, formerly of Paul Smith’s College, created a bloom-date chart for his book Adirondack Upland Flora.

And in case you think botany effete, consider that original Hall-of-Fame pitcher Christy Mathewson kept a list of flowers he found around Saranac Lake in the summer of 1922, when he was there to recover from tuberculosis. (An excerpt: “June 24, 1922: Musk Mallow, Pink Petals also White Petals!!!!”)

Starting with the vernal equinox tomorrow, daylight increases at its fastest rate, Kudish writes. The ground begins to thaw. Around April 5 the mean daily temperature begins to rise above freezing.

Here are Adirondack Upland Flora’s first median flowering dates (at elevations of 1,500 to 2,000 feet; if you live at lower elevations expect to see blooms sooner):

May 2: Trout lily, red maple
May 3: Spring beauty
May 4: Trailing arbutus
May 5: Dutchman’s breeches and squirrel corn
May 6: Round-leaved violet
May 7: Sweet gale
May 8: Sweet white violet
May 9: Painted trillium
May 10: Strawberry
May 11: Bartram’s serviceberry
May 12: Purple trillium
May 14: Leatherleaf
May 15: Blue violet, early saxifrage, Canada honeysuckle, kidneyleaf buttercup; most hardwoods begin to leaf out rapidly
May 17: Marsh marigold and sugar maple
May 19: Bellwort
May 20: Goldthread and toothwort
May 21: Canada violet and serviceberry
May 22: Witchhobble, downy yellow violet, red cherry (Christy Matthewson reported witchhobble blooms in April)
May 23: Dwarf ginseng
May 25: Red elderberry
May 30: Foamflower
May 31: Pussytoes

Shortly before he died in the early 1990s Greenie Chase made flower-finding notes for Kathy Regan, when she was staff biologist at the Nature Conservancy’s Adirondack Chapter. In late May, he suggested, visit Valcour Island to see ram’s head ladyslipper and look on alpine summits for lapland rosebay.

We’ll post more of Christy, Greenie and Mike’s bloom notes as spring and summer progress. You can see Christy Mathewson’s list yourself in the William Chapman White Adirondack Research Center of the Saranac Lake Free Library.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Adirondack Canoeing Symposium

Canoeists understand the silent satisfaction of the paddle-powered glide. The late John Jerome, who wrote often of water and of the Adirondacks, described the aesthetics:

“[W]e paddled long enough that I began to feel the enticing sphere of energy in the water beside the boat — all the water I could comfortably reach with the paddle — and got the sense that by shaping it, pushing and pulling against it, carving it, molding it, I could make the canoe go where we wanted it to go. Playing with that added fundamentally to the sensual pleasure of the trip.”

If you’d like to increase your paddle pleasure, “obedience classes” for canoes are held each summer in the Adirondacks. Equal parts woodcraft and ballet camp, the Adirondack Freestyle Symposium promises to add “efficiency, grace and fun” to your boating. Registration just opened for this year’s gathering, which will be held July 19-23 at Houghton College’s Star Lake campus. American Canoe Association–certified instructors will teach a variety of levels, from basic travel technique to omering (an off-keel solo method).

Some advanced freestylers add music and perform a routine. But you don’t have to do that.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Traditional Irish Music for St. Patrick’s Day

If you like real Irish music, the northern Adirondacks is a good place to be this St. Patrick’s Day. Michael Cooney, an All-Ireland champion piper many times over, is playing in several venues.

Cooney was born in Tipperary, where he learned tunes from local fiddle and accordion players. In the 1980s he came to the United States, recently moving to Lake Placid.

With the band Aiseiri, Cooney will be playing today at P2s Pub in Tupper Lake 4-6 p.m. and at Kyna’s Pub in Malone 8-11 p.m. Wednesday Aisieri will play 12:10-1:10 p.m. at North Country Community College’s Saranac Lake campus, in the Connector (cafeteria).

A lot of bands play Irish music, but it’s rare to find musicians so dedicated to the old-country style. Aiseiri also features a singer, bodhrán (drum) and banjo player as well as another uilleann (elbow) pipes player who complement each other beautifully.

Aiseiri is organizing the second annual Festival of Ireland in Lake Placid, to be held Labor Day weekend.

Sláinte.


Monday, March 16, 2009

Kids Enter Big Tupper Ski Area Fight

It’s hard to believe that Big Tupper, the ski area in Tupper Lake with a vertical drop of 1,136 feet, has been closed for a decade. A pair of local owners threw in the towel in 1999 after a string of money-losing seasons.

Small and midsize ski centers are marginal businesses in the Adirondack Park. There’s only one still privately owned inside the Blue Line: Royal Mountain, in Caroga Lake, which balances the books by hosting motocross in the off-season. There are some little town-run hills, and the village of Speculator recently took over bankrupt Oak Mountain. The state Olympic Regional Development Authority’s larger Whiteface and Gore Mountains seem to be going strong in Wilmington and North Creek.

Tupper Lake has a long skiing tradition, and you can’t blame people there for wanting their kids to grow up on the home slope. Diana Foley, a town resident, is organizing a rally at the base of the mountain at 4 p.m. today for local students to show support for reopening it.

But strings are attached. Ever since the ski area was sold in 2004 it has become the centerpiece of a development plan that also includes 652 high-end home and townhouse lots, a 60-room inn and other amenities. Foley has spoken out in favor of a tax exemption for the Adirondack Club and Resort.

The project has become a sensitive issue, drawing questions about its scale, financing, tax breaks, new utilities and backcountry building lots. Inside Tupper Lake, there have been shows of political and public support. Some have questioned whether asking kids to wear ski jackets and carry signs shills them into a much larger debate. And to miss a point. Nobody is against skiing.

Foley said this morning that the kids are fully aware of the broader issues, and many young people came unsolicited to a rally in favor of the project last month. “I think the more noise we can make the better,” she said. “What are the students going to have when they graduate from high school?” There are few jobs in town, she said, and the resort as a whole, not just the ski area, would give Tupper Lake an economic boost

A memorandum from the developers detailing ski deals that the town will get as part of an exchange for creation of a new sewer district is distracting. Free skiing for Franklin County residents age 70 or older is nice, but free skiing for septuagenarians no matter where they live is standard across the country. Likewise free skiing for young children. Any Tupper Lake student with straight As or perfect attendance would get a free season pass. Whiteface and Gore’s Youth Commission Programs offer youth-group deals including six full days of skiing and a lesson for $103, regardless of grades or attendance. Titus Mountain, north of the Blue Line, offers similar incentives to young skiers.

Which is not to say that lead developer Michael Foxman doesn’t have a point when he argues that the ski area can’t be self-sustaining; the second homes are necessary to support it, he maintains, and so a hostage situation enters its fifth year.

His Philadelphia-based investor group originally planned to open a new base lodge and skiing by Christmas 2006, but the project is still in Adirondack Park Agency-ordered adjudication as well as mediation with three dozen concerned parties. The parties aren’t supposed to talk about it, but last month Foxman sent a letter to the Plattsburgh Press-Republican saying the plan remains alive.

He also noted that Big Tupper languished on the market for five years when the economy was “booming,” criticizing a suggestion by an environmentalist involved in the mediation that the town try to obtain the ski area and pursue other buyers. “Had it not been for the actions of [the environmentalist] and his peers (not the APA), your readers and their children might be skiing Big Tupper now,” Foxman wrote.

Organizers say Foxman is expected to attend the child rally today and a meeting of the Tupper Lake town board tonight.



Support the Adirondack Almanack and the Adirondack Explorer all year long with a monthly gift that fits your budget.

Support the Adirondack Almanack and the Adirondack Explorer all year long with a monthly gift that fits your budget.