How dare Tupper Lake businessman Jim LaValley tell Emperor John Sheehan of the Adirondack Council that he has no clothes?
Just because the Adirondack Council is about to lose an eight-year fight against economic development in Tupper Lake doesn't mean that John is an ideologue who will, out of spite, continue to attempt to stop job creation in one of the most economically depressed areas of the state of New York. And it certainly does not mean that John would submit an appeal against a project that is about to be approved by one of the most ecologically stringent boards in the state. Does it? That was the premise of Jim LaValley's article, but John never did address that assertion. John never addresses the fact that such an appeal would also cost the taxpayers of New York tens of thousands of dollars. No, instead Sheehan complains about mean-spirited attacks while we worry about our economic survival.
Does John Sheehan speak for all the members of the Adirondack Council? The arrogance and hypocrisy exhibited by Adirondack Council representatives during the Adirondack Club and Resort hearings did not pit neighbor against neighbor; it pitted the Council against 90 percent of Tupper Lake. In Sheehan's last lament in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, he said, "We will be around to see whether the applicant ever rebuilds Big Tupper Ski Area." John knows full well that the developers have always planned on the redevelopment of the ski area, but Sheehan slipped that sound bite in to create controversy where none existed. And now that the town of Tupper Lake is about to be granted an opportunity of a generation, the Council still threatens to delay and obstruct even after being handed a defeat. Is this what the Adirondack Council stands for?
Jim LaValley correctly framed the fight facing the Adirondack Club and Resort several years ago. While some local folks wanted to blame the Adirondack Park Agency, it was Jim who insisted that the real culprit against development was the environmental groups who had unfairly gained far too much influence within the Adirondack Park. As this saga has played out, we clearly see that Jim was right. Instead of worrying about the APA (Jim always said, "They are professionals, and they have a job to do"), we set our sights upon the Adirondack Council, Protect the Adirondacks and Adirondack Wild.
Sheehan intentionally labels Jim a "salesman" instead of a businessman. Is that an inference to the notion that private business is bad? I'm a "salesman," and I want to sell more! I want to have to hire two to three more people to keep up with sales. We want to have a better future for our children while being able to enjoy the abundance that the Adirondacks offer. We want to reduce our dependence on government jobs. We believe that economic development can be part of the grand master plan for this Park. The environmental groups do not share that belief. Therein lies the problem.
For Jim LaValley's part, he's put his money where his mouth is. Very few people have the skill set necessary to create and run an all-volunteer organization like ARISE (Adirondack Residents Intent on Saving their Economy) and lead it for three years. ARISE members are now preparing for a third season of skiing at Big Tupper. Jim not only has keen foresight and vision; his knowledge of the APA Act, trust developed with important players and overall sense of a strategy necessary to support the ACR has frustrated the big-money operation of the Adirondack Council.
Businesses have folded in Tupper Lake during the eight years that we have been waiting on a decision regarding the ACR. The Adirondack Council can share in some of the blame for those families losing jobs, but do they care? You be the judge. But the bottom line is that trying to stop the creation of hundreds of jobs, resulting from an approved and permitted project, is just morally and ethically wrong. But what if it were criminally wrong? What if the business community in Tupper Lake could sue the Adirondack Council for "tortious interference with contract and business relations," or infringing on our right to earn a living? Stay tuned.
And not to worry, John - Jim LaValley's comments have not ruined my view of the community. I'm more optimistic about Tupper Lake's future than I have been in some time, and I'm proud to stand with Jim against the Council imposing its will on our community.
Mark Moeller lives in Tupper Lake, is president and CEO of CBNA Insurance Agency Inc., and is spokesman for Tupper Lake Business Community Inc.