Whom do you trust? Why is the mayor for the village of Tupper Lake issuing threats against the Adirondack Club and Resort? And what exactly does the mayor mean by "or else"? Is he going to take the developers' lunch money, or perhaps it's even crueler, like he won't be their friend. He wouldn't really threaten to actively try and sink a private economic opportunity that would provide for hundreds of jobs and opportunities in his own village would he?
Support for the project isn't just about skiing. It's about jobs, opportunities, pride and a sense of being, and trust that there's a future that our community can look forward to. It's about being able to be an entrepreneur, having economic and social security with the promise of jobs. It's about a community and hundreds of volunteers who came together to reopen Big Tupper, with the hope that it could remain open permanently and provide opportunities for families and graduates who must now leave to find employment elsewhere. Big Tupper is not financially viable as a stand-alone enterprise - the ACR is the vehicle to keep Big Tupper open.
Skiing is one aspect of what will be a four-season resort. Tupper Lake is the only place on the East Coast that can offer amazing skiing, golfing on a Donald Ross-designed course, boating on the most beautiful lake in the Adirondacks and canoeing/hiking opportunities that are unrivaled. We need people in Tupper Lake year-round, and we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make that happen.
In any other town in America, the mayor and local officials would be the biggest cheerleaders for the opportunity that is in front of us. I was very impressed to hear the success that Mayor Rabideau has had in Saranac Lake - attracting two new businesses, proactively creating the opportunity for greater economic development and employment opportunity for village residents. Tupper Lake residents deserve the same proactive approach to our economy from our elected officials.
I have to admit that it caught me by surprise that the mayor's statements were purportedly made with the consent and approval of the entire board and all of the village residents. Not a lot of time has passed since I first read this article a few hours ago, but I have taken an informal poll of some of the village trustees and some of the local residents to ask them if the mayor spoke for them. They said that he did not. I know that I am a business owner in the village and he did not speak for me. I have consulted with other business owners; he did not speak for them, either. So whom is he speaking for?
Why is he making misleading statements that there will not be skiing? He signed an agreement more than two years ago with the developers, acknowledging that the ski area would remain open to the public and that the developers wanted to provide incentives to reward good students, discounts to Franklin County residents and on and on. The ACR developers have never backtracked from keeping skiing open, so why issue an ultimatum for something that is not in dispute?
Does the mayor understand that the ski area has been open with the consent of the developers? Does he understand that they cannot do any of the substantial work they want to do until the permits have been issued, custom orders fabricated, infrastructure professionally installed? He claims that "It isn't hard - a couple hundred thousand dollars" (to renovate the ski center). He hasn't done his homework. One new ski lift alone costs almost $2 million and requires a two-year lead time to fabricate. The cost doesn't even include installation. You don't just pick these up at Home Depot. The renovations planned for the ski area will require $15 million to $20 million. The developers could have chosen the cheaper route, which would have involved closing the ski area for two to three years while renovations are made, but they consciously chose to spend more money to allow skiing to continue while the center is renovated.
If I were the ACR developers, I would consider refusing permission to continue using the mountain if the village is so cavalier in their remarks, acting as though it's a God-given right to ski there. It takes a lot of time, money and hard work to keep it open. ARISE cannot continue to ask volunteers to support something that is being threatened by our own political representatives. Their passion is simply not going to be there; they are being beaten down by their own!
The issue is simple. If the Adirondack Club is issued a permit, skiing at Big Tupper will continue indefinitely. If it is not, skiing at Big Tupper will end permanently.
If the decision is up to the chamber and the village continues with these last-minute position changes and statements, perhaps the ski area should not open this year. How's that for an ultimatum?
Douglas R. Wright is president of the Tupper Lake Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.