Friday, February 6, 2009

Too Big, Too Much...Is Big Tupper Unstoppable?

When you look at a state like Vermont, one of the things that makes it Vermont is the size of things. Its not necessarily easy to explain but you know Vermont when you are in Vermont.

The Adirondacks are similar. One of the few places in this part of the country that doesn't look the same as everywhere else. To a large degree this alone is something that makes the Adirondacks have some appeal. The fact that in many ways the Adirondacks are more wild today than they were 120 years ago is also somewhat special. Many biologist have noted that the Adirondacks are one of the largest intact biomes in the US.

Tupper Lake is one of the more developed and densely populated areas in the Adirondacks, but it's surrounded by some of the more wild wilderness areas.

As we've been taught through experience, nothing done at the hand of man is inconsequential on the natural world. We certainly have come a long way to understanding ways to lessen the impact but this is still largely a game of chance. Nature is resilient, and if left alone it almost always makes a comeback. Occasionally nature slaps us right back for tampering with it, but all too often it seems we refuse to heed the warnings, and push it to the breaking point.

Would this be good for the local economy? Maybe. Why only maybe? Because the Catskills have long had these grand plans of a big boom, and short term success has always been followed by a period of bust. Unlike, the Catskills the Adirondacks have been much better planned thanks to the APA. And while I've noted time and again that the the APA is either loved or hated with a passion by the people who care about the Adirondacks, there is no doubt APA oversight has been a model for master planning, and the sole reason the Adirondacks don't look like the Catskills.

Short term the economy will benefit through construction jobs and service jobs, but what will be the long term guarantee that this development will be good for the Adirondack Park in general 20,30,40 years down the road.

Recently we've all been forced to come to realize that big business and it's investors are greedy. Think about the mortgage industry, everyone was making money, and no one cared that this giant smoke and mirrors scheme could not go on forever. Certainly the government didn't either; rising home prices were good for taxes, increased home ownership was good for taxes, everyone was a winner!

If we've learned nothing else it's that business needs to regulated because business has one priority, making money! There is nothing wrong with that priority, after all if you wanted me to invest in your business I'd expect a return. The issue is when profit comes at the expense of common sense, decency and ethics. All too often the quest to turn a profit comes with the sacrifice of basic principles which unfortunately have resultant collateral damage.

So, I sincerely hope that whatever compromise is eventually reached is done with some forward thought to what this will do to one of the last remaining great wilderness areas in this part of the country, not just short term but a generation or two down the road.

Controversial project in Adirondacks still alive

Parks agency says firm wants to push ahead with Big Tupper plan

By LEIGH HORNBECK, Staff writer
Last updated: 6:42 p.m., Thursday, February 5, 2009
RAY BROOK — Talks have stalled, but the biggest housing proposal ever made in the Adirondack Park is still on the table, a spokesman for the Adirondack Park Agency said today.

Closed-door efforts to resolve objections to the 700-unit project planned for 4,600 acres around the Big Tupper Ski Area have been on hold since last fall.

The proposal by Pennsylvania-based Preserve Associates surfaced in 2006. Plans called for hotels, estate homes, hundreds of condos, a golf course, marina and a shooting range. The centerpiece would be reopening Big Tupper, which closed in 1999.

Reaction was mixed. Some thought it would revitalize Tupper Lake, a community of 3,600 people in Franklin County. Others said it would destroy the rural beauty of the area.

The APA began holding hearings in front of an administrative law judge in the spring of 2007, but they were delayed twice at the request of Preserve Associates, which then asked to move into private mediation with 32 groups that had a say in the proceedings.

Mediation was "suspended indefinitely" in October at the request of Preserve Associates, according to APA spokesman Keith McKeever.

Despite the delay, McKeever said the company has not withdrawn its application.

"It is the agency's understanding that the project sponsor wants to continue in mediation and continues to prepare revised drawings and analyses to address the 10 issues raised in the (hearings)," McKeever said.

Preserve Associates spokesman Michael Foxman could not be reached for comment.

Source: Albany Times Union
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