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Arguing census numbers
April 2, 2012 - Jessica Collier
We often hear from people supporting development in the Adirondack Park that the Park is dying, the people are disappearing, and the area is on the edge, on the precipice, at a tipping point, at an important, make-or-break mark in its history.
There's a public debate going on about that today in the regional press. Post-Star reporter Jon Alexander wrote this analysis posted Saturday on the Post-Star's website.
He cites a recent Cornell study that takes the trends of Hamilton County's population decline and continues the same pattern for about 30 years. If that happens, there will be very few young people left in the county. Alexander paints a dramatic picture, quoting people as saying there might not be anyone to fight fires or do other important things that young people are supposed to do in a community.
(Jon also had this story on how some area officials want the census to study the Adirondack Park as a specific demographic area. I included something about that in a story I did a few years ago. Glad to hear they're still working on it.)
Today, Adirondack Almanack's John Warren posted this response to Alexander's piece. Warren doesn't buy the catastrophic viewpoint that many pro-development people are selling.
He argues that the inside-the-Park population numbers are growing quicker than the average in the rest of the state, and he also says that the number of seasonal residents are increasing a lot, which he says is a boon to the local economy. Warren also goes on to make an argument he's made many times before: that the APA doesn't have the slightest bit of impact on economies in the Park.
Now. Please. I mean, I think that a lot of people put way too much blame on the APA for the difficult economic situation in the Park. (If I remember correctly, Jon Alexander had a story a few years ago — maybe when he was working in Saranac Lake, but I don't remember — showing that the economy of the Park isn't any better or worse off than any other super rural area with comparable demographics in the state, or the Northeast or something.)
However, I still think Warren is way off when he says "The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) has almost no impact on economics in the Adirondacks (except perhaps to provide a number of good paying jobs)." Just the idea of the APA is enough to keep plenty of companies away, and while the agency isn't declining many applications at all, they also create a whole extra set of hoops for developers to jump through, which can in fact prove costly.
While this stuff isn't explicitly ACR related, I think these considerations have played and will continue to play a huge role in the way the project has progressed over the years.
CORRECTION: John Warren drew my attention to the fact that Jon Alexander's analysis was actually from the beginning of March, not this weekend. I was confused because the Enterprise ran this story yesterday. It's from our sister paper in Gloversville, so it was a little late. I'm also just really bad with dates...
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