In not-so-unexpected news to Tupper Lake residents on Dec. 30, Adirondack Wild, with new "advisor" Robert Glennon, submitted a demand to Adirondack Park Agency Chairwoman Leilani Ulrich to reopen adjudicatory hearings on the Adirondack Club and Resort project.
Allow us an 11th-hour recap: After eight years, hundreds of meetings, thousands of hours of work and review, and millions of dollars in legal, engineering and consulting fees, the APA board is set to render a decision on the permit request by the ACR developers on Jan. 20, 2012, but wait - Adirondack Wild does not approve of how this is working out. After applauding the work of Administrative Law Judge Daniel O'Connell, they now demand a change. Is there any wonder why the Tupper Lake business community is frustrated?
According to the motion filed by Adirondack Wild, "The (APA) executive staff's presentation has overwhelmingly focused on the (APA) hearing staff's position that this project is approvable with conditions, giving short shrift to the evidence presented by other parties. To date, there has been an incomplete, even misleading summary of the record." Wow. We think they just accused the APA staff of being incompetent. Apparently only the facts supported by Adirondack Wild are relevant.
Adirondack Wild contends that the issues of fragmentation and endangered species were not adequately addressed in the past eight years. The photo that accompanies this commentary addresses fragmentation. Now Adirondack Wild wants more information; however, last June they fought to restrict the amount of information that would be provided and made part of the record. Last summer, one of the APA's attorneys (Paul Van Cott) was quoted in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise on June 24, 2011, as stating that "I think it's unfortunate all through the cross-examination of the applicants' panel, we've heard from Adirondack Wild, Protect and the Adirondack Council calling into question the lack of information regarding impacts to wildlife, and here we have the agency's wildlife biologist offering testimony that will supplement the record with regard to wildlife habitat, and they're in opposition to it." Mr. Van Cott was further quoted as stating, "It's surprising to me. This information ... may help to fill some of the voids that have been identified regarding impacts to wildlife." Adirondack Wild didn't want the information when it had the opportunity, but they want the information now so they can further delay a decision. And they are trying to do so by disparaging an entire state agency's work ethic, dedication and competence.
According to the Adirondack Wild website, they "embrace the Forever Wild provision of the New York State Constitution not only as the law, but as the only hopeful way forward for the Adirondack and Catskill Parks. The words of Article 14 of the NYS Constitution, unchanged since they were approved by the voters of 1894, are as relevant today as ever. Read them again: 'The lands of the State, now owned or hereafter acquired, constituting the forest preserve as now fixed by law, shall be forever kept as wild forest lands.'" That's all well and good, but the ACR project is NOT on state land! This is private land, not "forever wild" or wilderness. It's classified by the APA as moderate intensity, rural use or resource management, all of which permit building rights for private landowners under certain conditions.
So who is the Adirondack Wild? Well, there are environmental groups, there are radical environmental groups, and then there is the Adirondack Wild. Directors David Gibson and Daniel Plumley were "retired" from other environmental groups, so they created their own new group in order to promote their narrow agenda of the world for the Park. When the radical groups like Protect the Adirondacks no longer have a place for you, you seem to have made an infamous name for yourself. And since desperate times call for desperate measures, they have a new advisor - former Adirondack Park Agency director Robert Glennon.
According to an article in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise on Nov. 14, 2011, Mr. Glennon said he plans to get involved again in Adirondack Park-related issues. He's currently doing some advisory legal work for the environmental group Protect the Adirondacks and said he had also met recently with Dan Plumley of Adirondack Wild.
"I hope to re-enter the Adirondack wars," Mr. Glennon told the Enterprise. Since Mr. Glennon's public attack against Tupper Lake, we have been regaled with stories of a bitter divide between community residents and the state agency resulting from his tenure. His recent comments seem to bolster such stories addressing the manner in which he operated as APA executive director, and is once again creating a bitter divide between his interests, the people of the Adirondack Park and even the Adirondack Park Agency staff.
It's believable to us that the Adirondack Park Agency's public relations and reputation were issues under Mr. Glennon's reign, and the "Glennon Era," as we have been told, was well known for creating a lack of trust between the agency and residents of the Adirondacks, elected officials and even other environmental groups. And as hard as the agency works on developing a stronger relationship with all Park interests, the cloud of mistrust was so powerful that it still hangs over agency matters to this day. The Wild's rebuke of the APA is, well, wild. A former APA director appears to be, in his own words, accusing current APA hearing staff of giving short shrift and a misleading summary of the evidence. By signing onto, and perhaps advocating for, this motion, he apparently does not respect the professional ability of the new APA chairwomen or the APA staff.
What a shame that Mr. Glennon was paid with taxpayer revenue and used taxpayer money to gain experience, connections, education and, presumably, taxpayer retirement to now advocate against the ability of taxpayers to earn a living so they can pay their taxes (which, to complete the circle, will be used to support individuals and groups fighting against our ability to earn a living). It may not be unethical, but it certainly seems amoral. Anyway, Mr. Glennon's recent announcement seems wrong to us on many different levels, but if he wants to go to war with Tupper Lake, then so be it.
For those of us who have supported the ACR project from the beginning, we have said all along that our objections are not with the APA; they have a job to do. Our objections are with the third-party environmental groups that have had far too much influence on Adirondack Park issues for far too long. This is just another example of that problem. We respect the work that the APA staff has done throughout this process, and we recognize the difficult deliberations that APA Chairwoman Leilani Ulrich and board members must complete. It's time for a decision to be made on the merits of the ACR permit. It's also time to clip the wings of rogue environmental groups like Adirondack Wild.
Douglas Wright is the president of the Tupper Lake Chamber of Commerce. Mark Moeller is spokesperson for the Tupper Lake Business Community Inc. Both live in Tupper Lake.