Three hundred people do not make a survey. For all we know, ADK Works questioned 300 known supporters. That's how special-interest groups operate. They skew the numbers in their favor. And yes, ADK Works is officially a special-interest group.
Destroying that much wilderness inside the Park is a crime. It doesn't matter if it's private or public land. This project destroys the natural resources that make the Adirondack Park what it is. If we continue to build and build and build, pretty soon we won't have an Adirondack Park. We'll have a theme park, and yes, the wealthy will make millions and the rest of us will sit back and think, "Oh my God, what have we done?" And the only wilderness we'll enjoy will come in the form of old pictures or some new, fancy, surround-sound auditorium.
Keep this in mind: The development group looking to profit from this project is not a local Tupper Lake company. They're from Pennsylvania, and that's exactly where all the profits are going to go - Pennsylvania. This project is not going to put the local town to work. The construction companies in Tupper don't have the resources. This work will be completed by an out-of-town company that will bring its own workers in to complete the project. They'll supplement by adding a few laborers and carpenters on their payroll, but they won't be the lead guys and they won't be making top dollar. The workers will be displacing the usual visitors to the Park in the hotels and motels. Why is this bad? Because workers send their money home and visitors spend it locally. The large construction companies will already have preferred suppliers for the materials and will not be utilizing local companies except for a few nails, and maybe a couple of 2-by-4s when they run low. When the project is complete, the jobs left for the residents will be maid service, stable hands and boat dockers who cater to the rich, hoping for a $2 tip.
Sure, there will be tax revenue which will go into the general fund. Do you really trust the local politicians when they say the additional taxes will help the average person or allow them to cut taxes? When has that ever worked out?
It's comical that the New York State Association of Realtors became involved with ADK Works. Why? Because other than the out-of-state development group, the Realtors are the only other group that will benefit from this project. And not the hard-working agents themselves, but the real profits will go to the few realty owners in the area. I suppose 99 percent of Tupper Lake residents should be happy that 1 percent of their population just hit it big.
This project is horrible for Tupper Lake, horrible for the Adirondacks, horrible for New York state. It is, on the other hand, great for Pennsylvania since that's where all the profits are going. The Adirondack Park Agency did not do its job and may have been pressured by outside forces, which in itself is a travesty.
The last comment was a question asking, "The real question here is, if not this, than what do you suggest?" I'm glad you asked. The real gem in Tupper Lake is the natural resources. The town itself is the result of decades of poor planning. Some of the most pristine real estate has been industrialized and commercialized. The example lies by taking a drive out Route 3 toward Cranberry Lake. All the lake view area is built up with cheap stores and factories. Downtown Tupper is run down and uninviting. Even if the project in question goes through, who in God's name is going to want to go to Tupper Lake in its current state when there are much nicer areas to go to such as Placid, Old Forge, North Creek, Saranac, Wilmington ... This project, as it stands, is a disaster waiting to happen. The units will not be filled, and eventually Tupper will be left with yet another section of run-down buildings in disrepair, which will drive the property value even lower than it is now. Tupper is a run-down town with a tiny ski mountain which will not draw the masses when the "money people" can travel to Whiteface, Gore and Vermont.
So what do I suggest? Before I answer, I need to let you know a few things. I started in the construction industry when I was 16 as a mason tender; I worked my way through the trades, went to college and am currently a construction project manager. I believe that no more Adirondack Park land, whether it be private or public, should be destroyed. Why? Because it's a park, and we need parks that are protected from our own greed or soon we will be left with nothing. I believe that all the communities can thrive and the residents can prosper by preserving the wilderness and by making what already exists better. To clarify, if there is already a structure, then go ahead and build on that footprint, but leave the land next to it alone.
The proper way to revamp Tupper Lake so everyone in the town benefits and real jobs are created is to completely redo the downtown area, redevelop the area along Route 3 and move the commercial and industrial section out of eyesight. We are talking about millions of dollars of work, tax revenue, jobs creation, and when it's all done, you'll have a town that rivals with most quaint villages in the Adirondack Park without destroying the wilderness. People will want to come to Tupper; people will want to ski Tupper. I would even say that moving the proposed development to the Route 3 commercial-industrial area would be the first step in a new Tupper Lake urban plan. There is money out there to do exactly what I suggest. Tupper Lake just needs the motivation of the elected officials to go get it.
I'm sure there are some in Tupper who will read this and think I'm being ridiculous, and all I can say is look to your neighbor to the east. Saranac Lake just secured millions for two large construction projects that will be built on existing footprints without destroying wilderness. They will be creating jobs and raising tax revenue without destroying wilderness. Saranac Lake has lured Clarkson University in, which will once again create jobs and raise tax revenue without destroying wilderness. See how easy it is to prosper and not destroy wilderness?
ADK Works and the proposed Tupper Lake project are reckless and irresponsible.
Steven Saltsman lives in Galway, in Saratoga County.