TUPPER LAKE - Matt Doheny arrived at the village offices around 2 p.m. Wednesday to tour Tupper Lake.
Village Mayor Paul Maroun greeted the Republican candidate for Congress and explained that Doheny understands the North Country's needs better than, Elise Stefanik, his rival in the Republican primary June 24.
Maroun guided Doheny's tour, which included a visit to the village police station, the future site of the new police-fire building, the old fire station, several local businesses that have improved exteriors using grant money, and a meeting with developer Tom Lawson.
From left, Tupper Lake village Mayor Paul Maroun, police Chief Eric Proulx and Republican candidate for Congress Matt Doheny talk about the cramped conditions of the village police station.
(Enterprise photo — Shaun Kittle)
"He's here to hear about some of the issues we've got that deal with federal dollars," Maroun said. "Matt was born in this district, he was raised in this district, he left this district, and he came back to this district."
At a meeting in the village board room, Doheny spoke at length about the need for more jobs in the North Country. He explained that job growth begins with ideas, which attract people with capital who can then make those ideas happen.
A major opportunity for that, he said, is the proposed Adirondack Club and Resort project, which was approved by the state Adirondack Park Agency after a decade of back-and-forth between the developers and the agency. Construction never began, though, because the state was subsequently sued for allegedly breaking its own rules. The plaintiffs are two nearby landowners and two environmental groups, the Sierra Club and Protect the Adirondacks.
"It's actually amazing that the private sector has held on this long," Doheny said. "Usually in the private sector, you just have a loss. It's been quite an arduous process. That's the type of development that just makes sense to me. It's smart. It's been fully vetted."
The fate of the project is now in the hands of the Appellate Division of state Supreme Court, which has yet to make a decision on the matter.
Doheny said he's confident the project will get a green light. He called the lawsuit a "stifling of ideas" and said ideas are an essential first step toward attracting the necessary capital for business growth.
"I know how to save businesses and turn businesses around," Doheny said. "That's where my competitor and I differ. When opportunities come up, you have to chase every one down."
Doheny said he thought APA regulations can sometimes hinder business growth, but he said he didn't think that was the main issue.
"Everybody knows the APA has problems and we don't need any more regulations, but I worry about the amount of land that gets put off-limits for any type or reasonable activity," Doheny said. "No one's saying that we're going to go ahead and knock half the trees down and have cement plant after cement plant here, but when you can't have something like the ACR, when you think about what should be going on, and you can't get that done, it's a problem. We don't need any more land grabs here in the Park."
Doheny called for responsible development, but he said it's hard to springboard economic development without basic infrastructure.
"If you don't have cellphone service and broadband, guess what? You're not living with 21st-century infrastructure," Doheny said. "It'd be like going down Route 3 as a dirt road."
He commended recent efforts to expand broadband Internet access in the region. He said his travels around the region have made him familiar with all of the cell phone service dead zones between different communities.
"If I'm lucky enough to get elected to Congress, I'm not going to advocate for these things; I'm going to get them done," Doheny said. "How can you advertise for an area if you don't have cell phone service? How does that work?"
Doheny said cellphone service and broadband can help keep visitors here longer and can also be used to help guide people to destinations in the area. He said it's just as easy for travelers to go elsewhere, like the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, and that's why municipalities have to work together to draw tourists in.
"You're not competing with each other," Doheny said. "You're competing with wine country in California, or you're competing with something going on in Ontario."
Contact Shaun Kittle at 891-2600 ext. 25 or firstname.lastname@example.org.