ARISE Chairman Jim LaValley and Assemblywoman Janet Duprey, R-Peru, have fun during the Jan. 20 party at the Park Restaurant in Tupper Lake, celebrating the Adirondack Park Agency’s approval of the Adirondack Club and Resort project.
Even so, some environmental groups were not pleased with the decision, and many ACR supporters fear the green groups may file a lawsuit against the APA vote, dragging out the process even more. It took almost eight years to get APA approval.
Dozens of people packed the Park Restaurant in Tupper Lake during the Friday night celebration, people hugging and crying tears of joy while holding on to their drinks and plates of finger food. Smiles were everywhere. The chatter was so loud, the DJ-provided music could not be heard.
A jubilant Jim LaValley — chief ACR cheerleader as the chairman of ARISE (Adirondack Residents Intent on Saving Their Economy) — joined Assemblywoman Janet Duprey (R-Peru) in the dining room for a quick interview.
“Today’s vote hasn’t completely washed over me yet,” LaValley said. “This was a big psychological hurdle, but it’s also a big hurdle by way of the approval process ... Now I’m feeling as though we can quantify it and we can move forward in an objective way instead of a subjective way. To have the support of 10 out of 11 commissioners just says so much that the Adirondack Club investors really did their homework and put together a heck of a package to make sure that this resort is successful.”
Duprey — a supporter of various Tupper Lake projects such as the ACR and Next Stop! Tupper Lake — said she wouldn’t think of missing this party.
“I was glad to see the overwhelmingly positive vote of the commissioners at the APA,” Duprey said. “I can’t wait until the groundbreaking, when we actually put a shovel in the ground ... I think it’s all going to fall into place. One of the best parts of this is that it sets a standard. I think had this not happened, nobody else would have come to the Adirondack Park to try to do any kind of development.”
Reaction from around the Adirondack North Country region was both positive and negative. Below are some of those comments:
Speaking during the public comment period of the Jan. 20 APA meeting, Adirondack Wild partner Dan Plumley said, “You had an opportunity today to approve a project and to also carry forward a sacred public trust about the protection of the most delicate and vital resource management lands in the park. You did approve a project, but I am concerned that the full breadth of your public trust was not sufficiently carried through today ... But as we go forward, and there’s a lot of work to do in the implementation of this project, we will be looking for this agency to vigorously assess the lessons learned.”
“Today, the APA fulfilled its original mission, which isn't to discourage all development and economic activity as some voices want but to instead help plan and guide balanced approaches," North Country Chamber of Commerce President Garry Douglas said in a prepared statement. "Common sense has prevailed, and now We need for everyone to accept the outcome and join in helping this resort plan to unfold successfully. The continued revitalization of Tupper Lake as the host community is the best strategy. We can now all get behind, starting with restoration of the railway from Saranac Lake to Tupper along with business redevelopment and ventures such as the Adirondack Observatory.”
“The APA staff and board have issued a ruling which is a slap in the face of all previous boards who, by and large, have made the hard decisions to enforce the law and protect our Park,” said Robert Harrison, one of the group’s three co-chairs, in a prepared statement. “This board, influenced by a misguided presentation by the APA Executive Staff, has torn apart the very foundation of the Adirondack Park Agency Act. It is truly a very sad day.”
"Tupper Lake is a community that has worked hard to re-invigorate itself and ANCA applauds this effort,” ANCA Executive Director Kate Fish said in a prepared statement. “ANCA also sees the project as advancing the North Country Regional Economic Development Council's vision of elevating global recognition of the region as one of the special places on the planet to visit, live, work and study and activating tourism as a pathway to diversify our economies.”
Speaking after the Jan. 20 APA meeting, Hamilton County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Farber, former AATV president said, “I think it is a bright day for the Adirondacks. That really goes beyond just the vote ... I’m more impressed with the way this APA process has worked in this specific permit than any other permit I’ve seen to date in my tenure in local government. I think this was an example of the way it should work.”
Contacted on Tuesday, Jan. 24, Adirondack Council Executive Director Brian Houseal said his environmental group will continue to monitor the progress of the Adirondack Club and Resort, especially in regard to water quality with the permitting of the wastewater treatment plant. Overall, he was pleased with the conditions set forth by the APA staff. “We commend the Park Agency for its hard work and serious evaluation,” Houseal said. “There are adequate protections to avoid habitat fragmentation in the backcountry ... Tupper Lake needs economic development. We hope the ski slope will be a success.” He said the Council will not be filing a lawsuit against the APA’s decision. “We don’t see any reason to pursue legal action.”