I read the recent "essay" sent to the media by Protect the Adirondacks and, I assume, the Sierra Club in an apparent attempt to justify their outrageous disregard for the wishes and needs of an entire region and for the appalling consequences thereof. The cynicism and hypocrisy of the authors are not shocking. They are, after all, just lobbyists. What is surprising is their obvious disdain for the intellects of their contributors (at whom their essay probably is directed) and others who read what they write. Do they really believe anyone thoughtful who knows the facts will accept what they say?
In their first paragraph, they charge that "boosters" of the Adirondack Club and Resort have lobbied the Cuomo administration and "even held a press conference" with Senator Little. Quelle horreur! Isn't that exactly what these professional lobbyists do, daily, not because they want to save their community and their neighbors' homes, jobs and businesses, as do our "boosters," but because they are paid to do so?
In the next paragraph, they deny an intent to obstruct. Are they joking? Who do they think is so uninformed (otherworldly?) as to believe that? There is no one, whether a preservationist or a strip miner, who does not know that the script Protect and its ilk always follow calls for obstruction, delay and a war of attrition. Of course obstruction is the purpose of the appeal. They believe that if they can delay the project long enough, the developers will die, run out of money or quit.
In the law, there is the concept of judicial notice. It allows a fact to be introduced into evidence if the truth of that fact is so well known that it cannot reasonably be doubted. I suggest that your readers and the lobbyists' contributors are judges and should take judicial notice of the following facts as evidence of the motives of Protect and the Sierra Club, and as indicators of the outcome of the appeal:
The Adirondack Park Agency is an independent state agency with a professional staff and a board of 11 members representing a broad range of knowledge and experiences.
Nothing in the history of the APA even hints it has or ever had a bias in favor of development.
After seven years and the submission of 13,000 pages of text and almost 1,000 pages of drawings, the ACR project went through an adjudicatory hearing and then to the board of the APA for a decision.
Ten of the 11 members of the APA board then voted to approve the application.
The ACR is supported by the town and village of Tupper Lake, the local and regional chambers of commerce, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Masons, Lions, Rotary, Knights of Columbus, American Legion and every other service organization, adjoining municipalities, Senator Little, Assemblywoman Duprey, the governor, the editorial boards of the local newspapers and, overwhelmingly, the community.
On a visit to the North Country, the governor talked about how the planned ACR would benefit the area by creating jobs and yet preserve the precious natural landscape. He said, "I think it strikes that balance." That does not mean the APA and ACR are above the law. It does suggest that virtually the only people who oppose the project are a few extremist preservation groups and people from outside the area who react without real knowledge of the facts.
The ACR development must comply with the requirements of the APA, DEC, DOH, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, DOT, joint town and village planning board, town, village, comptroller, attorney general and who knows what other acronyms.
The village of Tupper Lake and the region are economically depressed, the population is aging and declining, stores and businesses are closed or closing, and job opportunities are desperately needed.
The ACR development, if given a chance, can be an engine for economic revitalization of the region.
The preservationists have obstructed development and creation of job opportunities in the region for decades.
The ACR site is bisected by a golf course, a ski area, a paved town road and small-lot residential developments, and is bordered by state Route 30, more than a half-dozen motels, several hundred homes, a 250,000-acre state forest and a 3,700-person village. It has been heavily logged for almost a century. There is no site like it anywhere else in the Park, and therefore, the alarms about precedent that Protect has been sounding are, like the rest of the appeal, nothing more than false alarms designed for fundraising and to justify the appeal.
Judges are, traditionally, reluctant to substitute their judgment for that of agencies like the APA and are particularly unlikely to want to do so after seven years of negotiations and deliberation by the APA that culminated in an adjudicatory hearing, a 10-to-1 vote and a 28,000-page record.
The preservationists do not expect to win in court. They hope to win their war of attrition. If their feelings are hurt by the widespread characterization of their appeal as frivolous, would they prefer to have it called an abuse of the legal system? In my opinion, it is both.
I readily admit that I am pleased to see that the preservationists feel it necessary to release such an "essay" proclaiming, repeatedly, their sincerity and whining about being criticized in the press. It suggests to me that they must realize current and potential contributors are becoming more aware of their insincerity and of the irreversible and unjustifiable damage they are doing to the people of the region.
Michael D. Foxman is the lead developer of Preserve Associates, which plans to establish the Adirondack Club and Resort in Tupper Lake. He lives in Elverson, Pa.