By Robert Engel
Great Camp Sagamore’s Historian from 2017 – May, 2023
Margaret Emerson Vanderbilt loved to compete. She also expected her guests at Sagamore to engage each other on the field of battle, be it croquet, tennis, or canoe racing. As a guest of Margaret’s, you didn’t have to win but you did have to play. Did the actress Gene Tierney and the business magnate Howard Hughes confront one another on Sagamore’s tennis court? Sure they did, maybe. Did General George Marshall play Madame Chiang Kai-Shek in a croquet match on the Main Lodge lawn while discussing the fate of the world? Why not?
Competition was Margaret’s way of drawing people together. The idea was that if you met someone new at Sagamore and then spent the day either teamed together, or competing against one another, you would have plenty to talk about at dinner.
The best part was that famous guests did not need to discuss the work that made them famous. They could instead talk about missed wickets and sizzling backhands. At Sagamore, they had the rare opportunity to feel and act unaffected by their fame. How wonderful.
There’s a favorite moment near the end of the history tour at Great Camp Sagamore. The guide has led his or her group out of the Playhouse, where Margaret’s guests might have competed at pool, ping pong, dancing, and martini mixing, not necessarily in that order. Now, at the closed entrance of the last building on the tour, the guide will recap Sagamore’s gaming traditions as they ask first-time visitors to guess the function of the building they are about to enter. Does anybody know?
That’s right, the Vanderbilts bowled.
Did the APA Learn a Lesson?
Did the APA learn a lesson in May? Apparently so, though only one person around the APA’s table would say so in public. That admission came from the non-voting representative of the Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board, Jerry Delaney. “We’ve had a lesson in how important the people take their opportunities for public comment,” Mr. Delaney said. I am glad he said it because I suspect most were thinking it.
The senior APA staff, hit with hundreds of negative comments from diverse directions since March, including from some of its own members and from groups like mine (Adirondack Wild) and the Review Board, caved in May on their intention in March to ram through restrictions on public comment opportunities and subjecting future Agency policy and guidance documents to rapid decisions during a single meeting.
I was glad the staff caved. Act in haste, regret at leisure. It was certainly audacious of the senior staff to think over the winter that cutting down on public comment opportunities and on the time for consideration for changes to APA policy and guidance documents would not be noticed and needed no notice. The question is, why did they propose such changes to begin with?
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