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Don’t waste goodwill by suing ACR

June 8, 2012
By Justin Levine

This is an open letter to Protect the Adirondacks and co-complainants: Drop your lawsuit against the Adirondack Club and Resort. The project will fail on its own, and you are squandering what little goodwill the environmental community enjoys in the Adirondacks.

The majority of working-class Adirondackers don't care about protecting the environment if it means that there will be jobs to be had. And Tupper Lake is desperate to catch a glimmer of hope during its slow decline. But what your lawsuit is doing is turning local people against all future green initiatives, to the detriment of the entire environmental protection community.

When the ACR was initially conceived, there was money to be had in the fast and loose mortgage system. Those days are gone. When the ACR was conceived, the average person was able to qualify for a mortgage that was well beyond their means. Before everyone knew what a credit default swap was, the idea of constructing hundreds of homes probably seemed like a good idea.

But times have changed, even though the developers and a large segment of locals have decided to ignore this fact. There is no longer a market for million-dollar second homes, least of all in Tupper Lake. (Sorry, Tupper Lake, nothing personal, but you just don't have much to offer.) The simple truth is that no one is going to buy the big houses, which will mean that there is no money to build up the activities and markets that are supposed to go along with this development. And if no big houses are sold and the amenities are not developed, then it is less likely that anyone will buy the medium- and lower-priced houses.

My concern is that by again protesting this project, you are costing the environmental protection community dearly. For decades, if not generations, every project you oppose will be favored by those who feel slighted by the current lawsuit. Let them dream, so that you can live on to fight another day.

After seven years, you are not going to find any smoking gun, or even a technicality that will make the APA overturn its decision. And your harping about not getting the decision you wanted is making the entire community sound petty and childish.

This project will get started. All over the country there are projects like this. Planned communities that are supposed to be the next-best thing to Xanadu. There will be some land clearing, roads and sewers and street lights will be put in, and a model home or two will be built. But in all likelihood, that will be the end of it. Investors will cut their losses, and a few locals will get work for a little while. Then the project will be abandoned, and the people whose dreams went with the development will be left with a bitter taste in their mouths, and they will blame you: the lawsuit bringers.

Let them dream, and save your money and goodwill for the future.


Justin Levine lives in Paul Smiths.



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