Soon we will learn of the APA’s recommendation to the governor regarding the recent Finch, Pruyn land acquisition. Depending on the ruling, Indian Lake will either have an opportunity to attract more recreational visitors, or the deer and bears will have many more acres to roam. The town was also recently presented with a list of recommended projects for our hamlets, including access to the waterfront in Indian Lake and a destination hotel in Blue Mountain Lake. There have been many questions regarding the Hamlets 3 recommendations. Who will take charge of these projects? How much will it cost? And where is the money going to come from?
The answer to these questions involves all of us — both permanent and seasonal residents of Hamilton County. Will everyone agree with what’s best for our town? Most likely not. The only thing for sure, is if you don’t actively participate in the planning process, please don’t criticize the decisions of others who will. We have much to protect — our amazing school attended by multiple generations of our founding families; our pristine rivers and lakes free of invasive species; traffic light-free zones; and the quality of life our small town offers. Yes, these are the reasons we love our town just the way it is. These are the reasons second home owners choose our town to flock too, often escaping the big city and all its baggage.
However, if we don’t start attracting families to move here, our school might need to be combined with another. Our kids may have to be bused to Wells or Newcomb if attendance continues to decline. If we don’t attract new businesses, our graduating seniors and college grads will have no reason to return to our town. Did you know that Hamilton County is the largest county, is the least populated, and has the largest percentage of people over 52 years old? If we don’t do something soon, we could cease to exist.
While we enjoy and take pride in our current Mayberry-like existence, we need to participate in the 21st century to stay alive. What we need to do is start adopting the smart growth principles as part of our community planning so our community can meet basic resident needs and provide a focal point for culture, recreation, and public amenities. By doing this, our businesses will grow from increased tourism activities. As a result, there will be opportunities for new jobs, goods and services. Instead of passing through Indian Lake on the way to Lake Placid, visitors will have a reason to stop, shop and play right here in our town.
Building a destination hotel in Blue Mountain Lake won’t put our small motels and cabin/cottage communities out of business. What will happen is we will become a heritage destination for bus tour groups who require accommodations for 100-plus beds in one facility. We could become the new hub for the Adirondack experience — the place all visitors must flock to if they truly want to have the ultimate Adirondack experience.
Change is good — if it is carefully planned and executed properly. The Indian Lake Chamber of Commerce would like to encourage all those interested in making a positive impact on the community to speak to your town supervisor and board members. We are all in this together. Climb into the raft; actively listen to the “guides” and row in unison with everyone in your boat. That way we will make it down “the river” together safely.