Posts Tagged ‘Ticonderoga’

Monday, September 22, 2008

OPINION: Corporate Giants Taking More Local Money

There is news this week that two corporate giants – Verizon and Wal-Mart – are suing their local host communities to reduce their taxes.

That’s Verizon, the second-largest US telecom firm, who reported profits of 1.9 billion dollars in July, 2008. And Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, who reported profits of nearly 3.5 billion in August.

“The margin of profit is very high here,” Ticonderoga Town Supervisor Bob Dedrick told NCPR’s David Sommerstein. But that doesn’t matter to Wal-Mart, which has already been skipping out on their taxes in a “payment in lieu of taxes” agreement for the past ten years. They’re seeking an assessment that’s less then half of what it is now (about $30,000 less in town taxes). Ticonderoga has a population of about 5,500 – countless others shop in the store from the eastern Adirondacks.

By the way, Dedrick has been an outspoken supporter of the big box stores that have helped ruin local business in Ticonderoga – he once took a busload of local citizens to APA headquarters in Ray Brook to support the Ticonderoga Lowe’s. “We have had extreme support on this. APA, here we come,” he told local media at the time. Those will be famous last words – now he says “as far as corporate Wal-Mart; I’m pretty disgusted.” How about an apology to your neighbors Mr. Dedrick?

Over in Hebron, Washington County, Verizon’s four parcels are worth about $593,848 in fair market value, according to the town assessor. The company, however, wants that figure lowered by $246,000. That’s about $87,000 per parcel – quite a real estate bargain. “It doesn’t add up to a whole lot of money, but it’s a lot for a small town,” Hebron Supervisor Brian Campbell told the Post Star, ” “It’s just amazing. What an easy way out of paying taxes, if they can do it.”

We all know that these two companies have a virtual monopoly in their sectors in our region. Their profits are not limited to their hosts communities, but their costs do range far and wide: county services for underpaid employees, local emergency services, road and highway maintenance, and more. These are the costs we all pay.

Then consider last month’s U.S. Government Accountability Office’s study that found that the majority of U.S. corporations don’t pay federal income taxes: “The GAO’s study found that over 60 percent of U.S. corporations—with revenue totals of more than US $2.5 trillion—did not pay federal income taxes.” Of course the study didn’t mention which companies, and one wonders where Verizon and Wal-Mart stand on that account. According to media reports, “The GAO found that 25 percent of all large corporations did not owe federal taxes in 2005. A large corporation is defined as a company with more than $250 million in assets.”

Add to those costs the $700 Billion of the CURRENT round of corporate bailouts (roughly $4,000 per individual income tax filer) – and who knows what corporate gifts lie ahead.

So much for that $600 so called “stimulus check” that went out this year.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Fort Ti Executive Director To Step Down

North Country Public Radio is reporting that Fort Ticonderoga’s longtime executive director Nick Westbrook will step down (Post Star says next year). According to the report board president Peter Paine says Westbrook will remain “affiliated with the historic site in a scholarly and advisory capacity” and described the move as “part of a planned transition.”

Ongoing controversy over the loss of the Fort’s most important benefactor has been covered at length on the New York History Blog before.

This weekend the New York Times covered the story:

This summer, the national historic landmark — called Fort Ti for short — began its 100th season as an attraction open to the public with two causes for celebration: the unveiling of a splashy new education center, and an increase in visitors, reversing a long decline.

But instead of celebrating, its caretakers issued an S.O.S., warning that the fort, one of the state’s most important historic sites, was struggling for survival, largely because of a breach between the fort’s greatest benefactor — an heir of the Mars candy fortune — and its executive director.

The problem is money: The fort had a shortfall of $2.5 million for the education center. The president of the board that governs the fort, which is owned by a nonprofit organization, said in an internal memo this summer that the site would be “essentially broke” by the end of the year. The memo proposed a half-dozen solutions, including the sale of artwork from the group’s collection.


Thursday, July 3, 2008

Adirondack Park Invasive Species Awareness Week

Adirondack communities and organizations will celebrate the 3rd annual Adirondack Park Invasive Species Awareness Week July 6- July 12, 2008.

WHY: Invasive plants and animals threaten Adirondack lakes, ponds, rivers, and forests, which are precious resources that underwrite the economy of many communities through recreation, tourism, forestry, and numerous other uses.

WHAT: Learn about the issues surrounding invasive species (both plant and animal, aquatic and terrestrial) and about the importance of native biodiversity in the Adirondacks by attending workshops, field trips, lectures, and control parties. » Continue Reading.


Friday, June 27, 2008

Largest Event at Fort Ticonderoga in Modern Times

It’s a big year at Fort Ticonderoga on Lake Champlain. First it’s the 100th anniversary of their opening with a dedication attended by President William Howard Taft. The Pell family began it’s restoration that year, a project that is continuing with the completion of the Deborah Clarke Mars Education Center that will open on July 6.

This year also marks the 250th anniversary of the French and Indian War of the Battle of Carillon, which was designated as the I Love NY “signature event,” and the opening of the new exhibit “Face of War; Triumph and Tragedy at Ticonderoga, 1758-1759,” the first new exhibit in many years. It details the lives of soldiers taken directly from their diaries and letters.

On the weekend of June 28 and 29th, over 2,000 re-enactors from all over the world are expected to make camp assembling to commemorate and celebrate the battle when Major General Abercromby’s British Army, along with Native Americans and American Militia was defeated by a much smaller force defending the fort under the Marquis de Montcalm. The focal point of the re-enactment of the 1758 battle will be a replica of the log breastwork that was a focal point of repeated and deadly British frontal attacks.

On July 5, the British and the Black Watch will be remembered with a parade to the Scottish Cairn, accompanied by clans, bagpipes and Scots from Canada, England and the United States. On July 8, there will be a parade led by the Fort Ticonderoga Fife and Drum Corps to the Montcalm Cross in remembrance of the French victory.


Saturday, December 15, 2007

Imperialist Radio: A Hostile Takeover of NCPR?

By now you may have heard. Albany based WAMC is attempting to take over North Country Public Radio’s 91.7 fm frequency in Lake Placid. The whole thing stems from the exceedingly rare decision according to NCPR’s page on the subject (apparently WAMC could care less about answering questions we in the Adirondacks might have about the situation – they have nothing about it on their page):

After 10 years of refusing to accept new applications for transmitters in the non-commercial section of the FM radio band, the FCC opened a brief ‘window’ in October.

WAMC applied for a the frequency that is being used by NCPR. You should also know that there are no other full-power frequencies available in Lake Placid,there may not be another opportunity for another frequency for years to come, if ever, and NCPR has been serving this community for a long, long time:

NCPR has used a translator (a low power transmitter) in Lake Placid for 20 years. Translators are NOT protected by the FCC under the rules of the current application period. Therefore, we applied for a full-power transmitter at the same frequency we’ve used for two decades, 91.7 FM.

It is Imperialist Radio, plain and simple, and here’s why:

WAMC does not cover the Adirondacks in any significant way. Go to their webpage and search for Adirondacks – you’ll find nothing about the important issues that face the Adirondacks – their coverage is limited to the “big” southern oriented stories – nearly all based on press releases from politicians and advocacy groups. Have they seriously covered North Creek’s recent boom and bust in development? How about border issues? How about Potsdam food-coop story? The recent property tax decision? How about the increasingly vibrant blogging community? Local elections? NCPR is an important part of the Adirondacks – does “NCPR” ever show up on their webpage? No. Does “WAMC” ever show up on NCPR’s – sure does.

WAMC has hundreds of thousands of people of color in their backyard and yet not a single program oriented to their community needs. Until WAMC hires some people of color (or even offers relevant programming) to cover the neighborhoods (some of which are literally a block or two away from the offices) they have no business marketing to the wealthy in Lake Placid. It’s no accident that WAMC broadcast outside it’s natural environmental and cultural region into the wealthy lower Hudson Valley and the Berkshires – now they want the wealthiest community in the Adirondacks too. Look at their supposed coverage area – do they really think they can serve Worcester, MA, Sussex, NJ and Lake Placid equally?

WAMC is obviously attempting to take the economic resources from our region to their offices in Albany without returning services to our community. In fact, they will be reducing local news coverage in Lake Placid. They’ve already done this in Plattsburgh and Ticonderoga. Search for Ticonderoga on the WAMC website – in all of 2007 they’ve reported just twice about Ticonderoga -both stories about International Paper. Take a look at their events calendar – not a single event in either Plattsburgh or Ticonderoga, or anywhere in the Adirondacks for that matter. Now take a look at NCPR’s events calendar.

What should we do? Here is what NCPR says we should do:

We know that NCPR listeners are concerned about this conflict and want to help the station. We appreciate your support and encouragement. At this time, the best thing for you to do is stay informed about the issue–read the information provided here and follow the story as it develops. Share accurate information with others you know.

Here is what I think we should do:

1 – Be informed and inform others. Write about this issue: blog about it, write to local newspapers and media outlets.

2 – Contact WAMC (if you can, they only have one all-encompassing e-mail) and tell them that you know what they’re doing and it’s wrong – plain and simple. Tell them that you value NCPR and do not want WAMC to damage your LOCAL NPR station. Ask them to withdraw their attempt to take over NCPR’s frequency in Lake Placid.

3 – If you have a business from the Mohawk River to the Canadian border, or from the Vermont line to the St. Lawrence / Great Lakes and you advertise with WAMC – contact Dona Frank at 518-465-5233 ext. 167 and ask her to pull your advertisements and start supporting your local NPR station instead. Remember to tell WAMC why.

4 – If you live in the NCPR region now is the time to send some support their way – advertise your business by becoming an underwriter or become a member of the station.

5 – Leave a comment here to let NCPR know that you’re thinking about them and wishing them well. When your supposed allies turn on you, hearing form your friends and community makes a difference.

6 – Begin advocating for the removal of Alan Chartock as head of WAMC. He’s been unaccountable for far too long.

Good luck NCPR and let us know when and if there is anything we can do to support our best local radio station.


Friday, October 13, 2006

APA Approves Ticonderoga Lowe’s

The APA has bent over once again to big business and approved the Ticonderoga Lowe’s out of character and proportion big box store and sign. According to the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, New York Legislators for the Adirondacks Theresa Sayward and Betty Little took the opportunity to pander to the local corporate boosters:

Still, state Sen. Betty Little, R-Queensbury, and Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward, R-Willsboro, have been critical of the APA’s handling of this case, saying it shouldn’thave jurisdiction over this project.

But several commissioners pointed out that Lowe’s could build a store less than 40 feet in height and away from the wetland, and it would have not fallen under APA jurisdiction. Lowe’s could have moved the building, “and the sign issue would have never been here today,” Whaley said. APA spokesman Keith McKeever said Wal-Mart, which is located next to the proposed Lowe’s site, built a store 39 feet in height and avoided the APA permitting process.

Lowe’s will be permitted to build a 245-square-foot illuminated sign 30 feet in height. The APA limitations for such signs are 15 square feet and 20 feet in height. The only limitation set on the Lowe’s sign at the meeting was that Lowe’s has to turn off the illumination when the store closes.

We’ve discussed Lowe’s and Ticonderoga and Essex County’s failures here before, but we’d like to point readers again to the Adirondack Wal-Mart Blog, a leader in regional big box development information. Recently, they took a trip to the Ticonderoga Wal-Mart, held a discussion of Ticonderoga’s plight, blogged on the Wal-Mart funded Citizens for Economic Opportunity, self-loathing in Saranac Lake, the Sound Adirondack Growth wiki-war, and the proposed Saranac Lake community store [more at Adirondack Musing on that].

The Lowe’s debacle is the latest effort by the anti-zoning unrstrained development folks, who found their latest voice is State Senate candidate Tim Merrick, who, according to NCPR ” is proposing to remove the permitting and enforcement authority of the Adirondack Park Agency.”

Check out what Brian had to say recently.


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.


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.


Monday, February 20, 2006

Taylor’s On Schroon Lake – Anti-Semitism of Days Gone By

Over at eBay, there is a unique item of Adirondack history for sale. A 24-page advertising pamphlet from 1910 for Taylor’s on Schroon (photo above). And there it is, one simple line: “Gentile trade solicited” – in other words Jews need not apply. In the first decades of the 1900s anti-Semitism and nativism were rampant in the Adirondacks as in the rest of the country. The Ku Klux Klan worked hard from its local base in Schenectady to establish Klan groups in Ticonderoga, Glens Falls, Saranac Lake, and elsewhere – some were quite successful. This tidbit, written by C.F. Taylor Jr., is one of the more rare blatant examples. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, February 9, 2006

Another Wal-Mart On The Way – To Saranac Lake in the Adirondacks

The rumors were persistent, probably a sign that the deal was already done behind closed doors. Wal-Mart is coming to Saranac Lake and it’s going to be a big Supercenter: 121,000 square feet. “The Wal-Mart Supercenter would be considerably larger than the building Ames used to occupy ­– larger even than the entire plaza in which the building sits,” reports the Plattsburgh Press Republican:

In a news release, Philip Serghini, the retail giant’s public affairs manager, said, “Wal-Mart very much wants to become part of the Saranac Lake community so that consumers in the area can benefit from everyday low prices.

“We hope to design a store that is in keeping with this unique community.”

Whether Saranac Lake is as eager for Wal-Mart to join the community depends on who you ask.

Some cheered the news Wednesday evening, saying the arrival of Wal-Mart would finally bring to Saranac the kind of low-cost retail store it has been without for too long.

Others fretted, saying it could cripple local businesses and, in doing so, ruin the character of the community.

Saranac Lake and Lake Placid have both fended off Wal-Mart in the past. The nearest Wal-Mart stores are in Plattsburgh and Ticonderoga.

There will be a fight:

Mayor Tom Catillaz learned of Wal-Mart’s announcement from a reporter [a-hem… sure he did]. He, too, balked at the size.

“I really need to wait to see what their plans are,” he said. “Hopefully they’ve got plans for a smaller store.”

Mark Kurtz, whose Sound Adirondack Growth Alliance has kept a close eye on the issue, said the organization would have to learn more about the proposal before issuing a strong opinion.

Oddly enough, Carcuzzi car-repair co-owner Bob Bevilacqua (an owner of land that Wal-Mart is looking at) actually believes that “having a Supercenter here will keep tax dollars in the community.”

Who exactly is he kidding, beside himself? Apparently he’s done NO research on the costs of these Supercenters – goodbye local business, hello low wage jobs supplied with benefits from county services, hello New Jersey like development, goodbye tourism.

Good luck Saranac Lake – some resources are here.

UPDATE: An anonymous reader points us to a new blog: Adirondack Wal-Mart. A recent excerpt:

Does Saranac Lake need a large retailer? Sure it does. Do we need 121,000 sq ft of stuff for sale? Well it seems that could be a point of compromise. Would a downtown location for a retailer be a better option? Certainly a question deserving of an answer. Can the people of Saranac Lake, it’s towns and counties work together to find the answers? One would hope so.


Wednesday, February 8, 2006

Adirondack Almanack Update

Over the next few weeks as we approach our first year anniversary we’ll be making some improvements here at Adirondack Almanack. The first is the addition of occasional photos. Today we have the now long defunct Mohawk F-227 loading passengers at Warren County’s Floyd Bennett Memorial Airport in Queensbury.
While you’re here, check out our recent post on regional airline service and the mysterious crash into Old Fort Mountain in Ticonderoga.


Sunday, October 2, 2005

Lake George Cruise Boat Ethan Allen Tragedy

Ethan AllenThe 40-foot tour boat Ethan Allen has capsized on Lake George. It happened at 3 pm; 49 passengers were on board.

Update: The Associated Press is reporting 20 were killed, making it the deadliest such tragedy in the history of Lake George and the Adirondack Region. We’ve been told that the emergency room at Glens Falls Hospital was overwhelmed and forced to send patients to Saratoga Hospital. The AlbanyEye is reporting on the reporting. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, August 4, 2005

Ticonderoga Plane Crash: Murder-Suicide?

What do the band Phish, the regional airline Capital Airlines, a Connecticut scam artist, and Old Fort Mountain near Ticonderoga have in common?

Maybe a murder-suicide.

A year ago this month, an experienced pilot from Connecticut named Milton Marshall was flying his own twin-engine Piper Navajo chartered by 40-year-old Michael Keilty when the two crashed mysteriously into Old Fort Mountain just south of Ticonderoga cutting a “500 foot long swath through 60 foot [old growth] trees” (Press-Republican, Part I, Part II). Keilty said he was a pilot himself interested in becoming an investor in Marshall’s company.

Marshall had started his career as a professional pilot at the regional airline Capital Airlines in 1952. Capital became a part of United Airlines in 1961 but when Marshall retired in the 1980s he started a new Capital Airlines, a Federal Aviation Regulations Part 135 On-Demand Air Carrier (certificate number VRWA687I). “Quite a bit smaller in size, but not at heart,” the company’s website read.

Now, Marshall’s daughter Kathy Leonzi thinks the crash was no accident.

And oh yeah… Phish… who could forget the 1996 party they threw at the abandoned Plattsburgh Air Force Base in honor of the founder of the original Capital Airlines – Clifford Ball – and what a party it was (audio of the shows and photos) – it was the first of the annual Phish summer festivals and made Plattsburgh (temporarily) the ninth largest city in New York State.


Suggested Reading

Airports: A Century of Architecture


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