I recently returned to my second home to spend some time with my family (our heritage is rooted in Tupper Lake, although we have mostly taken residence in other places for various reasons) and was taken back by the comments I heard throughout the week from the mayor of the village with respect to the Adirondack Club and Resort project.
As background, I work for a publicly traded company, managing a balance sheet of more than $150 billion dollars with revenues of more than $6 billion per year. I work with investors to ensure they understand the fundamentals of the business model and have confidence in the future performance of the company. I am also a partner in a small business based in Tupper Lake, which I hope will grow over the next several years if Tupper Lake can generate an economically viable environment.
The total lack of appreciation by the mayor for the investments being made in this project and in the community by the ACR consortium is astounding. This project is, and always has been, about a four-season resort. The ski area is one important components of the development. Obviously, in order to successfully market the resort, the project must complete the renovation of the ski area. While that happens, the ski area will continue to operate as it has for the past two seasons. The demands being made from the mayor are, frankly, ridiculous and unfounded. Furthermore, if he has concerns, why is he not addressing them through the Joint Town/Village Planning Board, which has the authority over the village's interests in this matter?
What is most alarming to me as a business person who has invested a considerable amount of money in Tupper Lake over the last several years, is the fact the mayor lacks an understanding of his role in maximizing my return on investment. How do you think the ACR investors feel?
Let's deal with Mr. Demerais' role: First, the creation of opportunities for economic development, which meet all ordinances?- village, town and state. Obviously, based on his statements of late, he is not qualified to carry out this part of his job. I would suggest he rely on the advice of his attorney, supplied by the tax dollars of village residents, before he makes public statements or demands. The next most important role is to protect the interest of the people, those who elected him. I can not fathom how the residents of the village of Tupper Lake would benefit by the ACR investors shutting down this project.
So let's discuss the concerns of the investors, who have numerous opportunities for their investment dollars, for a moment. Investors in this type of project want support from the local community. They want to see a local government that has laid the foundation for economic development and is actively generating opportunities for economic growth. Question: What is the village of Tupper Lake currently investing in itself? What has the mayor done to create any type of economic development in Tupper Lake? If he has a backup plan, I would love to see it. Since we started our business here in 2007, we've seen business after business leave Tupper Lake. How great to again have a thriving Park Street where one could go to a local clothier, market, bakery, jeweler or furniture store.
During the past seven years of review, the ACR investors have modified and adjusted their development plan to meet the concerns of parties. This includes giving up major aspects of the initially proposed development, to be more fully integrated in the village of Tupper Lake and enhance the opportunities for local businesses to succeed. The last thing an investor in a project of this scale wants to hear is the mayor of the village questioning the intent of the developers, at the 12th hour, after publicly supporting the project since inception. What is even more incomprehensible is the mayor did not ask a single question during the APA hearings to which the village was a party.
I hope the mayor understands the risk he is creating for Tupper Lake and will quickly change course. The investors have already demonstrated that keeping skiing open to the public at Big Tupper is their goal; it has been open for the past two seasons and will open again this year. The mayor claims to be protecting the people of the village; he is not. He states that his main goal is to keep Big Tupper open for skiing; his actions belie those statement.
I would like to hear the mayor's plan B if the project doesn't move forward. If he thinks that the investors will simply hand the ski center back to the village, and that skiing will continue without the ACR, he is sadly out of touch with reality. If he continues on his current path, he will ensure that our business relocates to a more welcoming environment, and that Big Tupper never opens again.
Russell A. Cronin Jr. is a Lake
Simond resident and co-founder/co-owner of The Well Dressed Food Company.