It is certainly wonderful for Saranac Lake area residents that Trudeau Institute's board of trustees laid down the law that this biomedical research center must remain here, its home for 126 years. With only one dissenting vote Friday, the 21-member board insisted that the Institute's essential role is to do science in Saranac Lake. Anywhere else, it simply wouldn't be Trudeau Institute.
Dr. Frank Trudeau made the same insistence about five decades earlier, when the Institute was formed from the ashes of the tuberculosis sanitarium and lab founded here by his grandfather, Dr. Edward Livingston Trudeau. The Saranac Lake location had been written into the Institute's bylaws, but before that, it had been written into its DNA. Trudeau Institute is not an anything, anywhere kind of lab, existing only to do good science. It is what it is, and a big chunk of its essence has been Saranac Lake, the Trudeau family, the beautiful shore of Lower Saranac Lake, concessions and grants given by local and state government - and, of course, top-flight research to find cures for diseases, especially those of the lungs.
But Institute officials have left a number of questions wide open:
-Who thought Trudeau Institute should move?
-How much had they banked on that?
-What are they going to do now that the board shot the idea down?
-How likely is it that the Institute will lose money, recruits, quality and/or prestige by staying here?
-How possible is it for the Institute to gain money, recruits, quality and/or prestige by staying here?
-The fact that some at the Institute were eyeing greener pastures begs the question, what can be done to green up the pasture here?
The Enterprise is working hard to get answers to those questions. Trudeau administrators, faculty and most trustees have been reticent to speak publicly so far, but some trustees have started to open up. We look forward to a more trusting time when discussion of this excellent, important lab's future isn't so hush-hush.
In the past, Trudeau has mostly been an island in Saranac Lake. While many of its employees have been involved in the community, the Institute itself has done its own thing, successfully, and the other community institutions have done theirs. It's been a friendly relationship but not a friendship.
Now, with Trudeau's attempt to fly away grounded, it's?here to stay. Many of us have found ourselves in that situation and know that the result is what we make of it. Trudeau can - and should - be just as successful here as some hoped it to be elsewhere, but that will likely require more economic teamwork than before between it and the community.
The rest of Saranac Lake has the opportunity to reach out and do whatever it can to help its neighbor turn a transitional situation into a stable success that can help feed other local success stories. Trudeau is a gem that should no longer remain tucked away.
With hope, vision, teamwork, hard work, patience and luck, this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship, rather than just a neighborship.