Take a stand. Lend a hand. Stop bullying now. That's what the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says to kids who get bullied in school. And if bullies aren't stopped when they're young, they become adult bullies.
The fight over the proposed Adirondack Club and Resort project in Tupper Lake has shown us that bullies can also take the form of organizations. So move over, Adirondack Park Agency, there's a new bully in town: the Adirondack Council.
So-called "environmental advocacy groups" are actually created on that premise - to put their noses in other people's business, people they don't agree with - and strong-arm them into getting some lunch money, so to speak. Or at least garner more lunch money from deep-pocket benefactors to perpetuate their existence.
The Council's latest mission to do so is the case of the Adirondack Club and Resort and their promise to change the developer's plans to suit their vision of "an Adirondack Park with clean air and water and large wilderness areas, surrounded by working farms and forests and vibrant local communities."
There is a community in the Adirondack Park - Tupper Lake - that is floundering economically and needs a shot in the arm. In fact, most communities in the Adirondacks need an economic booster shot, and, while Forest Preserve and state easements help draw tourists each year, they are not the answer to making local communities vibrant.
What we need is economic development. And guess what? Someone is interested in doing just that in Tupper Lake and has a plan to create jobs by developing the land around the Big Tupper Ski Area.
Is it a perfect plan? No. But that's why proposed development goes through a permitting process. Yet the permitting process shouldn't be rigged to turn down a project; it should be designed to make a project better for the environment and the community. And it shouldn't take seven years of red tape to do so.
Thus far, the bullies are pushing around the Tupper Lake community, not trying to improve it, and they are attempting to drag out the permitting process in the hope that the developers will run out of money and patience and give up, just as they've accomplished in the past. But the Adirondack Council should have done a background check on their opponent before climbing into the ring. Somebody should have warned them: Never pick a fight with a Tupper Laker. They don't give up.
Why is the Adirondack Club and Resort project the Adirondack Council's business anyway? Because they made it their business to fulfill their mission of ensuring "the ecological integrity and wild character of the Adirondack Park for current and future generations."
But, who decides what that ecological integrity and wild character should be for the Adirondack Park? Didn't the New York State Legislature create the Adirondack Park Agency in 1971 to do just that? Apparently that wasn't good enough for some. So, in 1975, the Adirondack Council was founded to make that decision for the rest of us.
The Adirondack Council and other environmental advocacy groups - such as Protect the Adirondacks! - think they have to protect the Adirondacks from the Adirondackers. And, if they don't get what they want, they push us around in an attempt to force their agenda down our throats.
The Adirondack Council's advocacy focuses on the "biggest threats to the ecology and wild character of the Park." The number one threat today, it appears, is the Adirondack Club and Resort and the Tupper Lake business community that supports the project, namely ARISE of Northern New York (Adirondack Residents Intent on Saving Their Economy).
The ACR project, as proposed and amended by the developers, is a threat to the Adirondack Council's vision for "vibrant local communities." Answer this question: How can you create vibrant local communities by hindering economic development? And don't tell us that creating more Forest Preserve and state easements is the answer, because it is not. We need real investment, not seasonal jobs catering to hikers and kayakers.
The Council says it is "looking forward" to the upcoming adjudicatory hearing process and expects that its modifications "will enable the APA" to approve a permit with the Council's conditions.
Again, why is this any of the Adirondack Council's business? And why does the Adirondack Park Agency, which will eventually decide whether to issue a permit for the ACR project, need the Adirondack Council's approval?
Not sure, unless they want the APA's lunch money, too.
This editorial is the collaborative opinion of a board comprised of Thom Randall, Lindsay Yandon, Fred Herbst, Lou Varricchio, Keith Lobdell, Jeremiah Papineau, Sarah Cronk, Andy Flynn and John Gereau. Comments may be directed to email@example.com.