What follows is a guest essay by Dave Mason and Jim Herman of Keene, leaders of the ADK Futures Project. Over the past year they have been conducting workshops, interviews, and discussion sessions with a variety of Adirondackers about what the future of the Adirondack Park should be. Dave and Jim are retired management consultants who ran a small consulting firm during the 80’s and 90’s that helped very large organizations create strategies for growth and success.
The ADK Futures Project was kicked off at the July 2011, Common Ground Alliance (CGA) annual event in Long Lake. A year later, after 120 interviews and 14 workshops involving 500+ people all over the Park and in NY City, the results were presented at the 2012 CGA event. It is a pro bono project, using scenario planning, a methodology from our consulting careers. We are not members of any of the usual ADK organizations but Keene, NY is our home. The initial goal of the effort was to broaden the conversation about the Park, involving more people and weaving together the full breath of issues facing the Park. But along the way surprising alignment emerged around a particular future vision for the area. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) will hold its regularly scheduled monthly meeting at its Headquarters in Ray Brook, NY on Thursday, August 16, 2012. The meeting is one day only and will be webcast live, and will largely focus on economic development and planning.
The meeting with include a presentation from Local Government Review Board Executive Director Fred Monroe and Bradford Gentry from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies on their participation in a workshop on how conservation organizations can help rural communities in the areas of forestry, agriculture, tourism, energy, and environmental markets.
Additionally, Kate Fish and Bill Farber will provide a follow-up report on the Common Ground Alliance forum held July 18th in Long Lake and Dave Mason and Jim Herman, co-founders of the ADK Futures project, will provide an overview of the strategic visioning work they have completed in partnership with the Common Ground Alliance. The full schedule follows: » Continue Reading.
A number of debates in the Adirondacks revolve around snowmobiling, including opening long-closed backcountry roads to sleds, expanding trail networks or routing connector trials on state lands, and shared use of trails. Snowmobilers often cite their positive economic impact as a reason to expand the approximately 800 miles of groomed snowmobile trails on state land.
A new study of the 2010 – 2011 snowmobiling season commissioned by the New York State Snowmobile Association and undertaken by the SUNY Potsdam Institute for Applied Research, offers some insight. It concludes that snowmobiling statewide contributes more than $428.5 million annually in direct spending, but much of that money is spent in Adirondack feeder markets on sleds, trailers, maintenance, and equipment.
Few mothers as a group have seen more Mother’s Day celebrations than my own mother and her immediate ancestors. My mom turned 90 last September 5, an amazing milestone. Her mom, Mary Franklin Lagree, of hardy Churubusco farm stock (as they all were), lived to 96. Mary’s mom, Julia Toohey Franklin, was 93. And Mom’s paternal grandmother, Matilda Lagree, was 92.
Those four women collectively saw close to 300 Mothers Day celebrations. For good measure, I could include my mom’s Aunt Alice Silver (her father’s sister), who died in 2007 at 103, and was still active. » Continue Reading.
If you live in Hamilton County you better pack your bags. At least that’s the message from the Glens Falls Post-Star. “Hamilton County might not survive the next century,” reporter Jon Alexander opined recently is a story labeled “analysis” that seriously argued that by 2040, only 28 men and 24 women between the ages of 25 and 29 will live in Hamilton County – an 85 percent decline for that age group between 1990 and 2040.
According to Alexander’s unnamed “local officials,” “If things don’t change in Hamilton County, in about 25 years, there won’t be anyone left to respond to fires, drive ambulances or plow the roads.” “It’s scary,” Fred Monroe, executive director of the Adirondack Local Government Review Board, told Alexander. » Continue Reading.
What follows is a guest essay by Frederick H. Monroe, Executive Director of the Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board (LGRB). The LGRB was created by the Adirondack Park Agency Act “For the purpose of advising and assisting the Adirondack Park Agency in carrying out its functions, powers and duties.”
Through his vision and leadership, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has offered to the communities of New York a major opportunity – with the potential for large rewards: The chance to set our own economic agendas, regionally, with the ten Regional Economic Councils. And, initially, a piece of the $200 million in state funding that goes along with them. » Continue Reading.
A plan to reinvent the Adirondack Park Agency and revitalize communities that appears in the October 2011 issue of Adirondack Life has generated discussions, letters to editors, blog posts and op-ed pieces. “The Other Endangered Species” by Brian Mann has sparked debate in all corners of the six-million-acre Adirondack Park and beyond.
To continue dialogue on political, economic and quality of life issues raised by Saranac Lake-based reporter Mann, Adirondack Life is sponsoring two panel discussions that are free and open to the public. » Continue Reading.
I just finished reading your latest editorial piece, “The Other Endangered Species,” in the September/October issue of Adirondack Life magazine. I’m writing to say that your premise is all wrong.
You wrote that it’s time to end the discussion of whether or not the Adirondack Park “as a conservation model” is a success or a failure. You say “the various factions in the Adirondacks need to accept that the human community is in peril.”
Brian, the Adirondack human community is not in peril, human communities in the Adirondacks are not endangered, and there is no chance, despite your claims, that the Adirondacks “will be reduced to a patchwork of ghost towns and hollow vacation resorts.” » Continue Reading.
In the many discussions concerning the present and future of the Adirondacks, one of the foundational assumptions is that the region is being held back by the controversial Adirondack Park Agency (APA). An analysis of population data shows something quite different: the Park’s population is growing at a significantly faster rate than the rest of New York since the creation of the APA.
At the suggestion of The Post-Star‘s Will Doolittle, a harsh critic of the APA, I analyzed population data from the Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages (AATV)*, whose most recent numbers are from 2006. Mr. Doolittle also criticized previous analyses that he considered distorted by relatively populous towns like Queensbury and Plattsburgh that had land both inside and outside the Park, so I looked at numbers of municipalities that were entirely inside the Blue Line. I compared those figures to 1970 numbers, the last census before the establishment of the APA. » Continue Reading.
What follows is a guest essay by Ken Strike, Professor Emeritus at Cornell University and member of the board of Protect the Adirondacks. Ken and Lorraine Duvall produced a demographic study of the Adirondacks following 2009’s Adirondack Park Regional Assessment (APRAP) report. The Almanack asked Ken, who lives in Thendara on the Moose River, to provide his perspective on the 2010 Census.
What does the 2010 census tell us about ourselves? The Adirondack population is basically flat with growth in some places and losses in others, and our population is aging. For some it has been easy to conclude that these demographics are the result of a poor economy and that this poor economy results from public ownership of land and the Park’s regulatory environment. However, a more careful reading of the 2010 census data tea leaves does not support these views. Rather, they suggest that we are much like other rural areas – in fact we’re better off than many. Our population dynamics also track the dynamics of the U.S. and NYS white population. No great surprise that. And they suggest that the Park is an asset, not a liability. » Continue Reading.
Tupper Lake is hurting. Logging no longer employs as many people as it once did. The Oval Wood Dish factory closed years ago. Young people leave because they can’t find work. Over the past decade, the community lost 7 percent of its population.
Enter the developers behind the proposed Adirondack Club and Resort. They want to build a year-round resort with 650 residential units in the vicinity of the Big Tupper Ski Area. They also plan to refurbish and reopen the beloved ski area. » Continue Reading.
Have you gone hiking recently in the Siamese Ponds Wilderness or canoed the Kunjamuk River? I’ve never met you, but I can guess a lot of things about you.
You probably live within fifty miles of the trailhead or put-in. You probably have a college degree. And you’re probably white.
These are statistical probabilities based on a survey of Forest Preserve users in the southeastern Adirondacks. For a year, researchers from the New York State College of Environmental Science and Forestry staked out trailheads and put-ins and interviewed more than a thousand people. » Continue Reading.
I want to address another of the primary criticisms over my recent commentary on protecting our open forests, from those who claim that more open space damages local communities. “They should just be honest and stop pretending that they care about the people and ‘culture’ of the Adirondacks,” one regular anonymous commenter said, echoing the criticism of others.
Even Brian Mann, who offered an otherwise thoughtful critique, titled his response “A vision of an Adirondack wilderness, with people.” The supposition there is that seeking to expand open space in the Adirondacks means excluding people. Not only is that supposition wrong-headed, it dehumanizes those who support wilderness protection. “They don’t care about people” the argument goes, as if we’re not people ourselves. This kind of argument appeals to the basest nature of some and draws a stark dividing line between “us” and “them.” It does nothing to address the concerns I raised about the development pressures we’re facing. » Continue Reading.
I heard some harsh criticism over my last commentary on protecting our open forests. “There are far too many who are willing to buy into the idea that we have enough, or that what open forests we have should be opened to every purpose under the sun, essentially no restrictions except on houses and highways,” I argued, suggesting that the proposed 409,000 acre Bob Marshall- Oswegatchie Great Wilderness Area was a good idea.
One theme that seemed to emerge from the detractors was the imminent death of Adirondack communities in the face of more wilderness. “The problem is yet down the road and the end is coming shortly I fear,” one wrote. What end? “The end of the communities and the livelihood of the most endangered species in the park; the year-round resident.” Another decried “The end of sustainable communities” and “The end of multi-generational, year-round residents.” » Continue Reading.
Established in 1903, Lake George Village will survive intact beyond December, 2013, the date it would have ceased to exist had a vote to dissolve been placed on the ballot and approved in March, 2011.
In a vote that surprised even Mayor Bob Blais, Lake George Village’s Board of Trustees decided on November 15 not to put the question to a vote in March.
“As far as the Village Board is concerned, dissolution is a dead issue,” said Blais.
Although the Village Board could revisit the proposal some time in the future, the trustees acknowledged that this was unlikely. Too many questions about the costs to taxpayers and the future of municipal services if the Village dissolved and merged with the surrounding township remained unanswered, and answers are unlikely to be forthcoming, they said.
Village officials had hoped to develop a plan in consultation with Town officials that would explain in detail how assets and liabilities would be distributed among the residents of a new, single community, but Town officials refused to co-operate, said Blais.
In the absence of a plan explaining how assets would be treated, what special taxing districts would be formed and how debt service would be handled, one agreed to by the Town, a vote to dissolve could have been a mistake, said Blais.
“People would have had no idea what they were voting for,” he said.
Town Supervisor Frank McCoy would commit to nothing more than stating that “if dissolution occurs, the Town will work to ensure a smooth transition,” said Blais, quoting a message from McCoy.
A study of the feasibility of dissolution, drafted by a consulting firm and overseen by a local committee, indicated that if the two municipalities merged, Village residents would see their taxes decrease by 19% to 30% while town taxes would rise by as much as 40%.
“It’s clear to me that the Town doesn’t want us,” said Trustee John Earl.
Trustee John Root, who chaired the committee appointed in 2008 to study the costs and benefits of dissolution, said he had favored putting the measure to a vote until Monday’s meeting, when every Lake George resident present opposed dissolution.
“Their concerns were understandable,” said Root. “I’m glad we’ve held public hearings; the residents have spoken loudly and clearly that they do not favor dissolution.”
Some residents, like Micky Onofrietto, Barbara Neubauer, and Doug Frost, for example, said that an uninformed vote would be detrimental to the interests of the residents themselves.
“I feel uncomfortable putting it to a vote, without people looking into it as I did, when I found that we had no way of knowing the true costs,” said Micky Onofrietto.
“I might save on taxes but lose on services,” said Barbara Neubauer.
Former Village Trustee and Tom Tom Shop owner Doug Frost said that as a businessman, he feared losing the benefit of the Village’s expertise in promoting special events and weekly attractions like fireworks shows that draw tourists to Lake George.
Town residents Joe Stanek, Karen Azer and Mike Sejuljic emphasized the differences in priorities and styles of governance between the Town and the Village.
“A 28% tax increase, borrowing to meet payroll, paying its bills late; the town should get its own affairs in order before incorporating another government,” said Azer.
After listening to public comments, Mayor Blais said that while dissolution was appropriate for some villages, Lake George Village remained a viable entity.
“In most cases, villages’ assets are not as large as ours, they’re barely surviving financially, they have small populations and they can’t find people to serve in elected or appointed offices,” said Blais.
Trustee Ray Perry introduced the motion to take no action on dissolution. It passed unanimously. Photo: Aerial view of Lake George from the Lake George Mirror photo files.
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