Residents give feedback on Lake Placid destination management plan

Second virtual town hall set for tonight

A slide during the Lake Placid-north Elba Destination Management Plan virtual town hall meeting Monday poses the question, “What is a Destination Management Plan?” Seen in the top right corner is the moderator, Greg Oates, senior vice president of innovation at MMGY NextFactor, the company hired to write the plan. (Enterprise photo — Andy Flynn)

LAKE PLACID — About 30 people attended Monday’s virtual town hall to learn more about the destination management plan currently being written for the village of Lake Placid and town of North Elba.

The meeting was hosted by Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism officials, including CEO Jim McKenna and Chief Operating Officer Mary Jane Lawrence. It was moderated by Greg Oates, senior vice president of innovation at MMGY NextFactor, the Canadian company hired to write the plan.

A destination management plan is a five- to 10-year strategic road map designed to optimize interactions “between visitors, the industry that serves them, the community that hosts them, and the environment.” MMGY NextFactor has written plans for other tourism destinations, such as Breckenridge, Colorado; Hilton Head Island, South Carolina; and Haliburton Highlands, Ontario.

“It’s really a matter of working together, get community engagement, get all the organizations engaged, to try to really figure out a viable future that has as many benefits across all of our different economic and demographic groups here,” McKenna said in his welcome address.

“In addition, I think it’s really important to acknowledge that ROOST as an organization previously spent about 90% of our energy speaking to the traveler and 10% of our time speaking to the community,” Lawrence added. “And we are 100% committed to switching those percentages up and really becoming much more connected with the community, listening to the community, understanding the needs of the people that live here.”

Since the Destination Management Plan Steering Committee first met in May, MMGY NextFactor employees have spoken with members of nine focus groups, conducted more than 50 interviews with people from a variety of community sectors, and sifted through recent tourism, residential and environmental reports. All that information was boiled down into six primary objectives for the proposed plan, which Oates unveiled on Monday.

When approved, each objective will contain key strategies, actionable tactics and defined results.

A plan is expected to be in place by the beginning of 2022.

Primary objectives

1. Diversify and optimize the economy

2. Embrace a regional approach to improve environmental sustainability

3. Increase long-term housing diversity

4. Develop a dedicated event management strategy

5. Align investments in the destination to benefit both residents and visitors across all socioeconomic segments

6. Improve community and visitor engagement for all audiences

Comments, questions

People with comments or questions wrote them down in the Zoom chat room for all to see.

Adirondack Foundation Executive Director Cali Brooks asked, “Why is there no reference to supporting the workforce, investing in the people who make this work possible? It seems a missed reference.”

Working off Brooks’s comment, Lake Placid resident Bryan Magnus asked if the plan should consider after-school care and resources available to the schools in general, as a means to support the local workers who are critical to the economy.

“If young parents don’t have the child care support/resources they need, they can’t live/work here,” Magnus wrote.

Teresa Cheetham-Palen, a town councilor in Keene, said sustainability is regional: “Is there any way to work on the housing issue in a regional way (i.e. Keene, Jay, Wilmington, Ray Brook, Saranac Lake pooling together as a region)?”

Donna Beal, executive director of Mercy Care for the Adirondacks in Lake Placid, said the diversity of age and multigenerational populations takeaway lends itself well to pursuing the village and town as an age-friendly community.

“How does basic tourism infrastructure fit in planning process?” asked Olivia Dwyer, a program navigator for the Adirondack North Country Association’s Center for Pandemic Response who lives in the town of Jay. “Parking, public restrooms, information sites in key traffic corridors (frontcountry outreach especially), hiker/attraction shuttles for visitors and residents, and especially extending these resources to communities beyond Lake Placid in advance of driving dispersal of visitor traffic to get ahead of current stress points in these communities.”

Naj Wikoff, of Keene Valley, said U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton has been a leader in diversifying its sport, and other winter sports are well positioned to do the same.

“I think if we challenge and provide incentives for sports education and sports agencies, Lake Placid could become a leader in increasing diversity in sport, which in turn will help attract greater diversity in our visitors,” Wikoff wrote.

Lake Placid School Board member Daniel Cash wrote, “Pedestrian/Bike infrastructure development is important as well.”

Key takeaways

Oates said there are 14 takeaways from the interviews and research conducted so far.

1. Consensus that tourism is main economic engine but more balance is needed

2. The past is over and the future is fluid.

3. An aligned, community-first approach is needed/no shared vision for the future.

4. Sustainability is regional.

5. Lack of housing diversity, age diversity and workforce are connected.

6. Mobility and connectivity equal opportunity.

7. Confusion over short-term regulation, enforcement and compliance

8. Lack of a strong sense of community

9. Local expertise in human performance and well-being can diversify the economy.

10. Thriving communities have multicultural and multigenerational populations.

11. Event management is dividing the community.

12. Opportunity to leverage best-in-class outdoor recreation

13. Greater support needed for the creative economy and cultural communities

14. Critical need for more data-driven visitor and resident communication

Second town hall

ROOST is looking for more feedback on the destination management plan ideas during a second virtual town hall meeting, which starts at 5:30 p.m. today.

Join on Zoom at: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/83089665533

Call in: 929-205-6099

Meeting ID: 830 8966 5533


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