LAKE PLACID Democratic Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand was in town last week to talk about the regions economy.
Gillibrand hosted a town hall meeting on economic development on Saturday, Aug. 25 at the Lake Placid Beach House. Several local experts spoke on the challenges to the regions economy, before Gillibrand opened the floor to questions.
Gillibrand called Lake Placid one of the shining stars of the region for economic development.
The issues experts brought up were familiar to many: the need for further tourism development, workforce housing, staffing shortages, infrastructure, passport requirement problems, the need to balance environmental protection with growth, and property taxes.
Lake Placid resident Andy Walken suggested that the region examine other areas, like White Plains, that have large office facilities as a model. He was critical of bringing industry into the area that paid living wages.
Im scared to death when I hear development it brings in jobs that dont pay people anything, said Walken. Lets preserve our environment. Lets stop building resorts. When we think about our citizens, lets start thinking about good jobs.
Panelist Ernest Holmeyer, a local businessman, said the lack of infrastructure would likely make bringing in a large cooperative headquarters difficult, along with lack of employee base.
Naj Wikoff of Keene Valley felt that looking to the arts was a good idea for economic development. He was concerned that the area was starting to turn into a gated community, and needed to draw more youth.
The arts can be a key to draw more young people, said Wikoff.
Gillibrand agreed, citing the fact that arts helped regions foster a higher quality of life.
Local resident Tracy Lamb said one of the keys was getting an airport in. Without having an easily accessible airport, its difficult for business travel.
We need your support with the airport we need to help whats going on in Plattsburgh, said Lamb.
Gillibrand pledged her support, saying she would work on seeking a grant for the Plattsburgh facility.
Resident Lou Kerth was concerned about the younger generations disdain for outdoor activities. He was worried about the future of the Adirondack Park as youth lost interest in conservation, and leaders needed to figure out a plan to encourage a love for nature.
Think about whats coming as a younger generation no longer finds nature of interest, said Kerth. We have begun to lose the children to electronics. Young people today are starting to become afraid of nature.
Gillibrand suggested that promoting the outdoors as one of the possible tactics to fight childhood obesity by encouraging more activity. She suggested holding an obesity forum in Lake Placid next year in Lake Placid to help promote the region.
While in Lake Placid, Gillibrand presented copies of House resolutions recognizing the 75th anniversary of the 1932 Olympics, and in turn was given the key to Lake Placid.
Gillibrand is serving her first term as U.S. Representative to New Yorks Twentieth Congressional District, which stretches across Saratoga, Dutchess, Columbia, Rensselaer, Washington, Warren, Delaware, Greene, Essex and Otsego Counties.