How unfortunate for the entire North Country region that a very small group of extreme preservationists can create a large negative impact on our future.
After eight years of review, months of public hearings and a 10-to-1 vote by state Adirondack Park Agency commissioners, the decision to issue the permit for the Adirondack Club and Resort was thorough and well designed by the APA staff. Yet the Article 78 lawsuit filed by Protect the Adirondacks, the Sierra Club, Phyllis Thompson and Bob and Leslie Harrison has the majority of people in the North Country feeling that there is a more self-serving purpose that has nothing to do with the APA permit. The business and individual members of ARISE feel that the suit is a calculated and mean-spirited move to not only prevent the ACR from happening but for a very small group of extreme preservationists to further a position that is outside of the current rules and regulations of the Park, while fooling the public into believing that the Adirondack Park is in danger so that they will send money to their organizations and help pad their own coffers.
All of this comes at a cost to you, the taxpayer! It is the opinion of several New York state attorneys that the Article 78 lawsuit will be a large expense. And even more money is wasted in lost job opportunities. This action is an insult to our region, and to our own governor, who endorsed the issuance of the ACR permit* and who has been working diligently at trying to create appropriate jobs, such as those created by the ACR.
It seems evident that the intent of the lawsuit is of a malicious nature, intending to cause economic harm to the applicant and the community. ARISE and its members feel the lawsuit is being used as a weapon and not as a genuine review of the merits. We support the approach that the Adirondack Council has taken in this "Great Adirondack Debate." As the strongest environmental organization in the Park, it supported the APA's decision, based on the current rules and regulations, and has instead chosen to build consensus with ALL stakeholders of the Adirondack Park by looking at ways the regulations may need to be modified as the Park moves forward for the next 100 years.
The lawsuit also affects groups that rely on private donations and public support, including the Wild Center, the Adirondack Public Observatory, the train station and downtown revitalization. It was anticipated that there would be a higher volume of traffic and investors visiting our area this summer. More traffic translates into more entry fees paid and more donations made. That has now been delayed.
ARISE and its members will ask our state elected representatives to look at the misuse of the Article 78 filings and encourage them to develop legislation that would allow for damages to be paid to the state agency involved in the lawsuit, should that agency prevail, and to further allow the opportunity for other organizations and individuals to file a counter-suit against the plaintiffs based on the quantifiable losses realized from the misuse of filing an Article 78.
We are optimistic that the Article 78 has no merit and the ruling will be in favor of the APA. But the lawsuit has created another delay, at a cost to all of us, at a time when jobs are needed, and it was done in a manner that is very selfish.
Jim LaValley is chairman of ARISE (Adirondack Residents Intent on Saving their Economy). He lives in Tupper Lake, where he owns and manages LaValley Real Estate.
"Governor visits North Country to promote budget package," (Feb. 3, 2012) The Press-Republican, www.pressrepublican.com
"Cuomo supports redeveloping Big Tupper (Feb. 7, 2012) WCAX-TV, www.wcax.com