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What Trudeau’s people would miss

November 27, 2010
Editorial by the Adirondack Daily Enterprise: Publisher Catherine Moore, Managing Editor Peter Crowley

There's no use panicking about the possibility that Trudeau Institute might pull its deeply rooted stakes in Saranac Lake. The venerable research facility that specializes in lung diseases is exploring its options, which is probably prudent.

But for Saranac Lakers, the prudent thing is not to step back and let Trudeau's top officials make their decision in a vacuum. Rather, we all should kindly but persistently keep reminding the Institute, and anyone we encounter from it, that we want it to remain here, its home since Dr. Edward Livingston Trudeau started his tuberculosis laboratory here in 1884.

Granted, one of Trudeau's 134 employees won't be able to do much when met in a supermarket checkout line. But perhaps, if asked kindly, he or she might pass your message up the ranks.

If everyone at Trudeau is constantly hearing from neighbors, all fervently hoping the Institute won't depart, that could, conceivably, tilt the balance.

There certainly could be advantages to the Institute moving to a science hot spot like the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis, N.C. We use that as a hypothetical example since it's the only possibility made public so far - albeit just by Mayor Clyde Rabideau, citing sources he won't reveal. It's a convenient hypothetical since it would offer clear benefits to Trudeau, thanks to a billion-plus-dollar commitment by philanthropist and Dole Foods chief David Murdock. Trudeau scientists would get to use the newest and most expensive equipment in vast new facilities, none of which they would necessarily have the responsibility of owning. They would also be surrounded by top scientists and students from all the major North Carolina universities, as well as corporations, working on a wide variety of topics.

But the Institute has a good thing going here, too, in many ways:

-It has a beautiful location on Lower Saranac Lake, with its own beach under the majestic white pines.

-Its main building has a new, $16 million wing, largely paid for by New York state taxpayers - it's named for the late state Sen. Ron Stafford, after all.

-The Institute is not required to pay any property taxes here, even on the housing for which it charges its employees rent.

-As federal, state and local politicians hover to keep Trudeau here, village officials, especially, are going to great lengths to give the Institute what it needs to stay. The village offered to build a building and a road with utilities, connecting to state Route 3, on the Institute's property to give it visible frontage on a main road, space to add a testing lab and a tenant - a biotech firm the village was trying to lure. Mayor Rabideau may have outed the Institute's secret, but we don't fault him for that. He is properly engaged in an all-out blitz to keep Trudeau here - and we thank him for looking after the village's interests in this way - and it's perfectly fair to use a little inside information and guilt in that effort. We hope Trudeau recognizes that the village's dedication to it is valuable.

Meanwhile, Trudeau's scientists and staff members would lose much by leaving Saranac Lake, mostly related to the quality of their and their families' lives outside the lab.

-Wherever they go would most likely be in a suburb - like Kannapolis, 30 miles outside of Charlotte - which means they would find themselves missing the sense of community here. This village is small and clustered enough that people know each other quite well. People volunteer in large numbers, proportional to the population, to help run schools, charities and an innumerable number of wonderful extras.

-They would find themselves missing the wild and wonderful Adirondack woods, waters and mountains, which has deep power to refresh in all seasons. Dr. E.L. Trudeau was the first of many who learned that the hard way: He came here to die of tuberculosis and instead was cured while breathing in the clean Adirondack air.

-Parents would find themselves missing the amazing variety of things to do with families around here. In our experience, most places don't come close.

-Trudeau people would miss festivals like Winter Carnival, which every February revives the mandate on which Trudeau Sanitarium patients founded it - to celebrate the fact that we're alive, the joy of being together, winter fun and the thrill of chilly air in the lungs.

We should remind them of all that. We don't have to be demanding about it, either; our attitude should also reflect the goodness of this area and make Trudeau folks not want to abandon their roots here.



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