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Who Am I?

February 13, 2014 - Ernest Hohmeyer
Sometimes I feel lonely out here in Lake Clear – preaching like Rodney Dangerfield about regional community and business development.

It’s the height of winter fun, so let’s share a lighter moment:

You see, to survive out here we need to be part of several "communities."

What does that mean? Am I referring to a “town” or is that a “village” or maybe I really mean “community”? Or is it something else again?

Out here in the “boondocks” we are in the “other” category I think because we’re a “hamlet” – I believe. What does “hamlet” mean? Is this all a Shakespearean tragedy of some sort? I’m not even sure where the boundary lines are.

Hey, we are a community too, whatever that means.

Where Are We?

Sometimes I don’t think that it really matters. Do most people, residents or visitors alike, really know when they cross different municipal boundary lines? Does it matter that Saranac Lake is reported as being the “coldest spot in the nation” when the readings are taken at the Adirondack Regional Airport?

Even as a pilot, I had trouble flying home because I would punch in “Lake Clear” only to be staring at a blank navigation screen. Silly me, I had to type in “SLK” which initially put me in a panic because I thought I was landing on main street.

It was a different time when I see the level of activity through historical pictures of “downtown Lake Clear,” or the bustling commerce areas of Paul Smiths, Gabriel’s and other outlying communities.

I Get it

Yes, I can see why it is so easy to be parochial. You hold dearly to the place you live in. You want YOUR community to succeed. Maybe that’s why it is easier for me to think about the Tri-lakes as we are not in Saranac Lake or Tupper and though we do many things there, not Lake Placid.

No, ladies and gentlemen, we are part of that foreign nation called “area.” Sometimes I think of us as the de-militarized zone when communities start to fight one another. Suddenly the trip out of town or is that the "village," seems like an okay ride.

Yes, our “area” is broken up into many fiefdoms when you think about Paul Smiths, Gabriels, Bloomingdale, Upper Saranac, Onchiota, Piercefield and others in the Tri-lakes “region.”

Us Too?

When asking about community initiatives, I often find myself sheepishly asking “Is our ‘area’ eligible to be included?” Perhaps I should be a Celtic warrior and wear a color-coded arm band so they can stop me at the door if this is not an “area” initiative.

In fact, the Tri-lakes region reminds me of the Celtic tribes. In doing research for my post last week on the Celts in step with Carnival, I had forgotten how powerful and influential they were. The innovations they brought were amazing. Their biggest downfall was fighting each other.

Regionalism?

It was with a happy heart from out here in the backwoods to read the article “Chamber looks to promote Tupper” by Shaun Kittle (Adirondack Daily Enterprise February 4, 2014). Whether or not anything happens with some of the initiatives reported, recognizing regionalism, partnering and working together is encouraging.

And that is not to say that regionalism is appropriate for everything – it is not.

But there is so much we share already in terms of a tourism, economic and community perspectives. Many live in one community and work in another. We utilize common amenities such as the hospital and outdoor recreation venues. Taken together, we ARE the recreational and tourism capital of the Adirondacks.

If we could come up with a common voice, it could be a very powerful one on a county and state level.

It is good to hear some new perspectives. It may also be wise to hear some old ideas on regionalization as well.

Out-of-the-Box

And we should not be surprised that Tupper Lake is thinking regionally.

This is not the first time.

It was Tupper Lake who was instrumental in forming the Adirondack Association of Town & Villages. They were a key partner in the former Adirondack Regional Airport “district.”

When I was a young economic developer starting in Saranac Lake, it was Tupper Lake’s willingness to join that made it possible to create the “Tri-lakes Economic Development office.”

It was Tupper Lake’s support that helped this office create the region’s first “circuit rider” community planning program.

And there are many other examples.

Moving Forward?

Perhaps there are several things we can do to encourage working together:

Business-led Initiatives:

1. Tourism Council? Perhaps the Tourism Council can invite members of the Tupper Lake marketing community to a joint marketing meeting. The Tourism Council can share its experiences in working with multiple municipalities and the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism.

2. Franklin County Tourism? Perhaps together a regional marketing plan that includes Tupper Lake and Saranac Lake can be brought to the County as part of their tourism strategy?

3. Destination Planning? Saranac Lake has one that it is in the process of updating. Perhaps information sharing can be helpful?

4. Joint Events? The region has an incredible array of amenities. Regional paddling events, x-country skiing, biking, even an “Olympic Festival” are possible regional events to work on together.

Government-led:

1. Council of Gov’ts? Would it make some sense to get the local governments together if nothing else to discuss common problems and opportunities? Would this be a forum to discuss the Adirondack Regional Airport, municipal sharing and marketing of common assets like the business parks?

2. Legislative Forum? Are there some political and legislative issues that together would help push them forward?

3. Regional Recreation Commission? This is another old idea that might make sense on a regional basis?

Finally, for some of us out here, it would also be nice to have one business group to work with so that our multiple “areas” can become a “region.”

Then again I’m stuck in “hamlet” so what do you expect!

Happy Holidays!

 
 

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