A federal lawmaker says plans to construct a large-scale resort on and around Mt. Morris could result in sustainable job growth for the Tupper Lake community.
Speaking last week in Saranac Lake, North Country Congressman Bill Owens described the permitting process for the Adirondack Club & Resort as a "balancing act."
The Democrat from New York's 23rd Congressional District says the project could have a significant impact on Tupper Lake's economy. Owens says responsible development inside the Adirondack Park is not always easy to accomplish
"The way I look at almost everything is by trying to reach a balance," Owens said. "You're never going to get a perfect solution. You're always trying to balance job growth with environmental issues. And you're trying to reach compromises that are within that ball park of being reasonable."
Budget cuts on both the state and federal level have communities inside the Park worried about public sector employment, Owens says. That means job growth in the private sector is critical to the region's economy.
"Clearly, from the people who live in the Adirondacks perspective, what they're looking for is sustainable jobs," Owens said. "And the kind of project they're doing in Tupper Lake will provide that - and provide a significant number of them."
Owens stresses that the state Adirondack Park Agency and the state Department of Environmental Conservation have a job to do when it comes to environmental protection and stewardship - but he says the economic realities facing communities like Tupper Lake also need to be taken into account.
"I think that we need to have the APA and the DEC working with people to make sure that we don't do damage to the environment - but at the same time we're able to create jobs that are absolutely essential in our communities," Owens said.
Owens is confident that those involved in the ACR project can make things work.
"If we can put people on the moon, we can figure some of these things out," he said. "It's just a question of focusing resources and saying, 'Okay, how are we going to do this?' I think developers on the other end of it have to understand that the costs may be a little higher, but that may not be an unreasonable price to pay. Now should they be extraordinarily higher? No. But they can be a little bit higher in order to accommodate environmental concerns."
The final rounds of hearings on the ACR project are scheduled to get under way again next week at the train station in Tupper Lake.