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Environmental group should be consistent

June 18, 2011
Editorial by the Adirondack Daily Enterprise: Publisher Catherine Moore, Managing Editor Peter Crowley

There is a significant discrepancy between the public language the Adirondack Council uses here in the Park and how the environmental group speaks outside the Blue Line about the Adirondack Club and Resort, planned for Tupper Lake.

Here, the Council has made itself sound reasonable, saying it supports the resort in general but wants it to cluster its 600 or so housing units around the ski area instead of spreading some of them out through the surrounding forest - fair enough. The Council has made a legitimate case for that goal and has done so in a civil manner, which we appreciate.

But in a May letter seeking new members and their annual dues, Council Executive Director Brian Houseal told another statewide audience this: "Long-time opponents to Adirondack land protection and land use regulation are using the economic crisis in New York State to ... push through a huge resort development without proper review."

Yes, he was talking about the ACR, not some other huge resort, and all in the middle of seven weeks of adjudicatory hearings, the like of which has never been seen in Park history, in which the Council was participating. It's disingenuous to warn darkly that some are trying to "push through a huge resort development without proper review" without mentioning the hearings that are deeply under way or the fact that the Council publicly supports the resort, barring a few modifications.

Unlike the project's knee-jerk boosters, we see these hearings as valuable, "proper review" for a giant project for which the stakes are extremely high.

Asked to explain, Council spokesman John Sheehan said the letter referred to the fact that "the boosters of the project would like the hearing to go away." Also, he added, "We haven't decided whether we feel the hearing was adequate or not.

"We don't know what the senior staff will recommend to the (Adirondack Park Agency) commissioners or how the commissioners will react. All of these are components of a 'proper review.'

"Perhaps our level of proper is higher standard than someone else's, but that doesn't make it any less honest.

"We are finding on a regular basis that materials and studies required by law have not been completed by the applicant. Meanwhile, while boosters of the project relentlessly complain that the hearing should be over right now. That is what we were trying to communicate to our membership."

The geographical variance in rhetoric is "not so unusual," Mr. Sheehan said.

"We're communicating with people with very different points of view, a different perspective on what's going on," he said. "The fact that we would use different language with our membership than we would use with the media shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone."

Whether or not this double-talk is surprising, many Adirondackers, including us, find it dishonest and, at first blush, offensive. The Council could more effectively protect the environment if it spoke consistently, without changing its story to rile up downstaters on one hand and placate upstaters on the other. Almost everyone can appreciate and respect the group's desire to protect the Park's forests and waterways, but the means to achieve that noble end can turn people off.



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