Friday, August 11, 2006

Adirondack Local History Up in Flames

Adirondack landmarks have had a tough year so far – first there was the arson that destroyed the Episcopal Church in Pottersville and then last week the Brant Lake General Store went up in flames.

The Brant Lake General Store was one of those classic places found all around the Adirondacks – part deli, part bait shop, part hardware store, newsstand and convenience store. It only recently changed hands (the new owners added a liquor store) when it caught fire sometime after midnight on August 1. The store’s former owner, Roger Daby, was among firefighters from six local companies and who fought the three alarm fire. » Continue Reading.


Monday, August 7, 2006

Adirondack Birding Google Maps Mash-Up

Thanks to TourPro at Adirondack Base Camp for pointing us to the lastest offering from the Adirondack Regional Tourism Council – an Adirondack birding map!

And while we’re at it – we’ll refer you to our own Adirondack Map round-up from about a year ago.


Sunday, August 6, 2006

Green Candidate for US Senate Howie Hawkins in Glens Falls

In case you missed it – Brian has a nice review of Howie Hawkins recent trip to Glens Falls here.


Suggested Reading: Howie’s Latest Book on Independent Politics


Friday, August 4, 2006

A Sweeney News Round-Up

In case you haven’t seen:

Brian’s recent rant on the 20th Congressional District race

Democracy in Albany – “Someone’s lying

From the WFP Blog: “Sweeney misfires

NY Cowboy Looks at “Sweeney’s claims” he’s an upstater

And while we’re at it:

The Green Party of New York State is in petition mode – help out.

And remember these gems?

Sweeney in a bar fight?
Sweeney in a frat party drunken stupor?

Still have doubt? Check out the Washington Post’s Congressional Votes Database (goes back to 1991)


Monday, July 31, 2006

The Convention Center Parade Marches On

In March. the Adirondack Almanack reported on the proposal to build another Convention Center in Lake George. We pointed out that its been long understood by people who bother to look that:

a highly critical report on the convention industry for the Brookings Institution… found that various factors such as industry consolidation, telecommunication advances and rising energy costs have contributed to a nearly 50-percent drop in convention attendance since the late 1990s. But meanwhile, more than 100 U.S. cities completed or began construction of convention centers, increasing the supply of available exhibit space by more than 50 percent.

Now New York State has given $20 million to a convention center in Lake Placid and the Lake George Forum owners have offered to “expand their facility into a full-fledged convention center with an exhibition hall, ballroom and parking deck to be operated by a new public authority.” We can only hope they use similarly wacky design prinicples.

Once built, Lake George Venture Partners, owners of the Forum, would either sell the facility to the authority for $13.5 million or lease it for $775,000 annually, under a proposal to be presented to the Executive Host Committee of the Warren County Board of Supervisors at 1:30 p.m. Friday [July 28] at the Warren County Municipal Center.

Hmmmm… we wonder who makes out on that deal – certainly not the taxpayers of Warren County we’ll bet.


Friday, July 28, 2006

Adirondack Tourism: Another Study in the Works

The Northern New York Travel and Tourism Research Center has announced that it will conduct another survey of regional tourism in the Adirondacks. According to the Press Republican:

[The study] will measure the local economic impact of tourism in a 10-county area.

The first report, issued in 2003, showed that the average tourist spent an average $63.66 a day while in the Adirondacks — $33 on a day trip and $109 if they stayed overnight, according to Laurie Marr, executive director of the Research Center.

The final results were released in 2004 and showed that tourists to northern New York spent over $1.5 billion in 2003 with a local economic impact of almost $150 million (in local government revenues). It also showed that an estimated 35,000 jobs are supported by both direct and indirect tourist dollars across northern New York, with a resultant $662 million in wages and income earned by business owners in 2003.

Bryan Higgins at SUNY Plattsburg conducted a similar study in about 2000 and reported at that time that only two had been done in the previous ten years:

We are aware of only two scientific assessments of regional tourism issues and needs having been conducted in the Adirondacks during the 1990’s. The first was a brief visitor intercept survey at various attractions and lodgings in the Park, carried out by Ambrosino Research (1993) for the Adirondack Regional Tourism Council. The second was a compilation of available research prepared by Dr. Chad Dawson at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) et al. (1994) for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. A key finding of Dawson’s report is that the lack of accurate and objective data on recreation and tourism use within the Adirondack Park is a serious limitation to any NYSDEC comprehensive recreation and tourism planning efforts and therefore needs to be addressed in the future.

The most recent county reports are interesting reading as was this detail from the Plattsburg PR:

The 2003 study revealed a few surprises to some: just 7 percent of the tourists that year were from the New York City-Long Island area; 6 percent were from Canada; and only about $14 a day was spent on shopping.

It’s not clear if that is just Clinton County or the region in total and unfortunately the combined results are not available on the web. Also, the poverty numbers are still elusive. According to the New Tork Times, in 1992 the only five counties with unemployment rates above 15% were Hamilton, Warren, Essex, Lewis and Jefferson.

The state rate in June 2006 was 4.5% and the county numbers were:

Hamilton 3.6 %
Warren 3.7
Essex 4.9
Lewis 4.6
Jefferson 5.0

Why such a big differnence? They changed the benchmark in 2004 – did that lower the rates considerably?


Thursday, July 27, 2006

Pee Wee Herman / Paul Reubens’ Enchanted Forest

Strange as it may seem, Paul Reubens (a.k.a. Pee-Wee Herman) spent part of this week, the week of the 15th Anniversary of his arrest for, well, we’ll let the Daily Rotten describe it:

arrested in Sarasota, Florida for jacking off twice with his left hand inside the South Trail XXX Cinema. It was screening the triple feature Catalina Five-O: Tiger Shark, Nancy Nurse, and Turn Up The Heat. Following his masturbatorial debut, Reubens loses his children’s television show and product endorsements.

Anyway, he spent it where? You guessed it – at Enchanted Forest in Old Forge!

The details are all here.


Friday, July 21, 2006

Schroon Lake: Scaroon Manor Day Use Area Finally Opens

The Scaroon Manor Day Use Area, on the site of the old Taylor’s on Schroon, has finally opened to the public (word has it that their will be limited camping facilities beginning next year). According to a DEC press release, it’s the “first new recreational facility constructed in the Adirondack Forest Preserve since 1977.”

Scaroon Manor comprises 241 acres in the towns of Chester, Warren County, and Schroon, Essex County, including 1,200 feet of shoreline on Taylor’s Point on the western shore of Schroon Lake. The day use area, which complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act, contains a beach [next to the abandoned boat crib at left], swimming area, large parking lot, bathhouse, and 58 picnic sites located in the pavilion and surrounding areas. It will be operated by the State Department of Environmental Conservation. The parking lot contains ample parking for all users of the Scaroon Manor Day Use Area, with designated parking spaces for persons with disabilities.

The site features a 120-foot long beach and 10,000 square-foot swimming area that can accommodate hundreds of bathers and swimmers. The lawn area immediately adjacent to the beach provides additional space forrecreation or relaxation. The beach bathhouse has changing areas, flush toilets, and sinks, all of which are accessible to persons with disabilities. The picnic pavilion contains 20 picnic tables and there are 38 additional picnic sites located in three areas close to the beach. Half of the picnic sites in each area are also accessible to people with disabilities.

In the 1700s, the Scaroon Manor site was called Spirit Point because of its use by religious worshipers. The property was home to a large farm, and eventually housed a succession of summer resorts. As a major summer resort from the 1930s through the 1950s, the facility included a grand hotel with a large ballroom, guest cottages, a golf course, and a 500-seat outdoor amphitheater. The last resort at this site – The Scaroon – closed in the early 1960s.

The property was acquired by New York State in 1967, and became part of the Adirondack Forest Preserve. Many of the original buildings were sold and removed to new locations, some of which can still be found on the shores of Schroon Lake today.

That last line is interesting – the big rub has always been that they simply burned down a historic hotel and resort complex. That’s still true.

No word on what will become of the “500-seat outdoor amphitheater” (right) an amazing Greek style theatre that looked pretty rough last time we saw it.


Monday, July 17, 2006

Star Trek Returns to the Adirondack Region

About eight months ago the Adirondack Almanack noted a Wired story on James Cawley of Ticonderoga who transformed the historic Wheelock Garage in Port Henry into a Star Trek movie set in order to kill off Chekov. According to Lohr McKinstry at the Press Republican, Cawley is back with another installment –

Ten actors from the five “Star Trek” television series are in the show, including Nichelle Nichols, Uhura on the original “Star Trek”; Gary Graham, the Vulcan ambassador on “Star Trek: Enterprise”; Walter Koenig, Chekov on the original show; Garrett Wang, Ensign Kim on “Voyager”; Grace Lee Whitney, Yeoman Rand on the original; and Alan Ruck, Capt. John Harriman in the “Star Trek: Generations” movie.

This time Cawley’s troupe is taking on terrorism:

Once they finish shooting interiors in Port Henry, some location scenes will be shot in California, [Star Trek: Voyager star Tim] Russ said, including a desert sequence.

“It takes place at two different times, and we’ll use two different starship bridges. We aren’t experiencing any deep-seated character issues, but we will experience themes that take place now. For example, terrorism.”

The original “Star Trek” did it the same way, covering contemporary issues like war and racism that would have been taboo on TV if they hadn’t been set in the future.

“People remember the original series because it broke so much ground,” Russ said. “It was the first of its kind.”

Which part of the terrorism story will they tell? The Captain encounters a border road black 75 miles from the border? Or the crew have their financial and phone records monitored by an alien overlord? Your guess is as good as ours.


Thursday, July 13, 2006

Adirondack Heritage For Sale – And Not Very Cheaply

A recent post over at one of our favorite blogs, York Staters, got us thinking about the price of Adirondack History. Jesse, one of the blog’s several prolific and thoughtful writers, offered this about the Adirondack guide boat, which he calls the pick-up truck of the region:

It is ironic that the pick-up truck has become the Rolls-Royce, but the boats are once again slowly proliferating in the region. Yet, how many Adirondackers can afford part of their heritage? At the same time that the Adirondacks themselves are increasingly being bought off and subdivided for homes for suburbanites, the artistic heritage of the people is only available to these same outsiders. This is not only true for guideboats, but also for Adirondack packbaskets, performances of traditional Adirondack music, which have all become expensive for, and distant from, the lives of Adirondackers.

To that we add this tidbit.

The most recent book on the history of the Adirondacks is Adirondack: Of Indians and Mountains, 1535-1838 – price? $39

One of the great resources for Adirondack information is the Adirondack Atlas – price? $23 (just reduced from $35 for a paperback!)

Expensive and distant indeed!


That said, if you can afford them, and they are great books, take the time to buy through the “Suggested” links we’ve been adding. It’s a nice way to contribute to the Almanack and help keep us going (actually we’ll keep going whether you buy or not, but making even a little cash makes us feel a whole lot better about it!).

Suggested Reading: Adirondack: Of Indians and Mountains, 1535-1838

Suggested Reading: Adirondack Atlas: A Geographic Portrait of the Adirondack Park


Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Another Adirondack Community Forum is Dead

Several years ago our own Glens Falls Post Star had a community forum. They promised that citizens of the Adirondack North Country would have a place to discuss the news of the day and (god-forbid) provide feedback on the “news” paper’s reporting. It didn’t last long. Some forum posters demonstrated that the paper was editing its AP Newswire stories to lean just a little more to the right and others tossed out accusations that the paper was unfairly covering local elections (apparently also true considering their lack of coverage of independent parties so far in the coming election). Anyway, it wasn’t long before that forum was closed. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Ticonderoga Lowe’s – Another Lesson in Poor Planning

On the heals of the Saranac Lake WalMart debacle comes the latest planning ignorance from our elected officials. Lowe’s Home Improvement will be using their immense size along with lame and out of proportion architectural [ahem] design, to further erode downtown Ticonderoga. The Plattsburg Press Republican is reporting on the Lowe’s project. Lowe’s operates over 1,225 stores in 49 states (excepting Vermont) and is number 42 on the Fortune 500 list – it’s the second largest hardware chain in the country.

Ti could have a nice downtown, which although filled with numerous abandoned shops and empty lots, still has much of its Victorian character and walkability. Unfortunately local and regional planners are eager to abandon the downtown in favor of ugly, automobile access only, strip development about a mile away. So far a Wal-Mart SuperCenter, a Super 8 Motel, a McDonald’s, a Subway and a Dunkin’ Donuts have all located on what was once farmland at the edge of town. All these businesses could have located downtown. Think of it! Imagine the ability to shop at several stores within walking distance downtown, maybe stop at the Post Office, or for coffee at a local coffee shop, maybe at the library.

Instead, Lowe’s, along with Congressman John McHugh (R-Pierrepont Manor, Vietnam draft-dodger), Ticonderoga Town Supervisor Robert C. Dedrick, and a number of other small-minded corporatist want to see Lowe’s build a 53 feet high 124,000 square foot store with, and get this, a 245 square foot sign! The standard APA park sign size is 60 square feet and the building is already designed a full story above the park limit. Apparently Lowe’s thinks that the Adirondack Park is just like any other place on earth.

Dedrick said a 60-square-foot sign was put up as a test at the proposed Lowe’s site.

“You could barely see the sign. You certainly couldn’t read the letters.”

Ah… yeah… sure Dedrick, maybe that’s because most reasonable people believe that a building and its sign shouldn’t be designed as an eyesore on purpose and that a 53 by what 2 or 3 hundred foot building is visible enough – especially when it’s designed to be entirely incongruent with its surroundings.

Dedrick said a busload of Ticonderoga citizens will be going to APA headquarters in Ray Brook for the meeting when the vote will be taken.

“We have had extreme support on this. APA, here we come.”

Supervisor Joyce Morency (R-St. Armand) said that as many members of the Essex County Board of Supervisors as possible should also attend.

Folks, take the time to counter these fools and save Ticonderoga from their lengthy tenure at destroying one of America‘s most important historic towns.

Vote them out!

Attend the public hearing on the sign variance on either July 17 or 24 at the Ticonderoga Armory Community Building (now that’s some nice scheduling work from the local officials).

UPDATE 7/13: The Press Republican accurately describes the current situation in an editorial July 11:

Ticonderoga Supervisor Robert Dedrick says the APA has assured him the process will be conducted fairly and without bias.

At this stage, that appears unlikely, for it will be difficult for the agency to rule against Lowe’s now, no matter how much sense it might make to do so. If the agency decides the store must settle for the 60 square foot sign, the charges of obstinacy and absence of fairness will fly in earnest. It will take more guts than normal to rule against the company.

In government, appearance is often more important than reality. In this case, it appears the APA has been backed into a ruling it will be hard pressed to deny.

The simple fact remains – the size of their store is a more than big enough sign. By trying to muscle the agency whose job it is to defend the character of the Adirondacks they prove themselves to be the enemy of the New York Constitution and the people its represents.

UPDATE 7/20: The Adirondack Park Agency issued a permit approving construction of a 153,000 square foot Lowe’s including a 124,051-square foot building and attached 28,829-square foot garden center, a parking lot for 441 vehicles, signage, lighting and landscaping. Municipal water supply, wastewater treatment and stormwater facilities will serve the Lowe’s Store. Once the permit is recorded in the Essex County Clerk’s Office, the developer is free to begin construction. The permit includes a condition that sign for the proposed store must conform to the size and height limitations required by the Agency’s “Standards for Signs Associated with Projects.” Agency regulations limit signs on jurisdictional projects to 40 square feet (15 square feet for luminous signs) and limit the total sign area of two signs on a project site to 60 square feet.

UPDATE 7/26: A well-organized group of ill-informed locals gave the APA a hard time at the hearing over the sign. Here’s a nice tidbit:

Moriah Town Supervisor Thomas Scozzafava is a longtime foe of the APA.

“We have suffered economic hardship in the Adirondack Park since the creation of the Adirondack Park Agency. We have been forced to live like second-class citizens.”

Sure Scozzafava – you live like a second class citizen.


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Adirondack Turtles and Tourists

Take a look at the latest entries from Trinity University’s President Patricia McGuire blog. She’s been making her annual sojourn into the Adirondacks and has some interesting insights. Here’s a sample:

Driving east on Rte. 30 yesterday, about half a mile ahead I observed vehicles swerving all over the road. I approached cautiously, thinking there must be a piece of debris on the ground. But lo and behold, when I got closer, I saw the cause of all the commotion: a turtle about the size of a dinner plate ambling across the street from one marsh to another.

Now, growing up in Philadelphia, our vacations took us to South Jersey along the Black Horse Pike. We used to see a lot of turtles crossing the road along the way — or the remnants thereof. It’s where I first heard the term “roadkill.” You got points for hitting, fingers raised for swerving to save a turtle life.

Up here in the Adirondacks, I don’t see much roadkill. Instead, there’s a distinctive effort to preserve wildlife, including the turtle crawling across Rte. 30. Those swerving cars weren’t citified environmental lawyers in their Navigators. No, they were lumberjacks and fishermen in 4×4’s. Everyone understands the rules of the wilderness. Humans and wild things living side-by-side, warily respecting each other’s space. Nobody got hurt in all that swerving. No fingers waved out of car windows. Even the turtle made it home for dinner safely.

It’s always interesting to hear what others think about our Adirondack region – and their turtles.


Suggested Reading: Proceedings of the International Conference on the Conservation, Restoration, and Management of Tortoises and Turtles (SUNY Purchase, 1993)


Thursday, July 6, 2006

Firefly – Our Adirondack Back Yard Burning Man

In case you missed it – and we’re sure you did – last weekend brought a Burning Man like celebration to our neighbors in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont called Firefly [Flickr photo set]. We heard about it from the uvScene, and outstanding collaborative University of Vermont blog that, along with 802 Online, keeps us posted on all things cool across the water.


Suggested Viewing: The Burning Man DVD


Monday, June 19, 2006

Adirondack Media: The Glens Falls Post Star takes on WAMC – and loses

In a strangely foolish move two weeks ago (designed to make local Public Radio Station WAMC look bad?) the Warren County daily reported the following:

Warren County supervisors agreed Wednesday to spend $9,800 in occupancy tax funds for a year’s worth of advertising on WAMC/Northeast Public Radio. The money buys 52 weeks of “embedded” advertising during WAMC’s morning program, The Round Table. In addition to small announcements, discussion of the county and region is integrated into the commentary on the Round Table show, explained county Budget Officer Nicholas Caimano.

The Albany Eye (a one-man band blog, not a serious newspaper like the PS is supposed to be) was quick to point out that what the Post Star was saying was that Warren County was buying the right to content on WAMC’s regular morning show.

It sounds like this means that the county will get to place guests on the show where they’ll promote events and other Warren County tourism initiatives.

Well, that’s what it sounded like to us as well, and probably anyone else who bothered to pick up one of the Adirondack‘s worst run papers. But then, it turns out – surprise, surprise – that the Post Star got it all wrong because they didn’t bother to ask the folks at WAMC.

Worse yet, on Tuesday the paper’s Christine Margiotta passed the fault back to Caimano:

Warren County Budget Officer Nicholas Caimano drew sharp criticism Monday from WAMC/Northeast Public Radio over his description last week of an underwriting deal between the county and the radio station.

WAMC staff members said Caimano was out of line last week when he said Warren County‘s status as a station underwriter would buy “embedded” advertising and commentary on WAMC’s “The Round Table” morning show.

Susan Arbetter, co-host of The Round Table show, explained Monday that underwriters have no influence over the show’s content.

“WAMC and the Round Table never do quid pro quo,” she said. “We certainly sell underwriting but there is a firewall between the underwriting department and editorial at WAMC. It’s as sacred at WAMC as it is at any newspaper.”

Fine, but here’s the rub:

Caimano said Monday his lack of understanding led him to inaccurately characterize WAMC’s underwriting process to the county Board of Supervisors.

Ah… sure… but it was a lack of real journalism on the part of the Post Star that reported his false claim as fact and led them “to inaccurately characterize WAMC’s underwriting process to the county.”

True to form, the Glens Falls daily deceives and obfuscates, rather than simply admit its shortcomings when it’s wrong – nothing new there.