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IDA checks out resort site

County agency prepares to decide on tax break for resort

August 9, 2012
By JESSICA COLLIER - Staff Writer ( , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

TUPPER LAKE - Members of the Franklin County Industrial Development Agency spent some time Wednesday getting familiar with the Adirondack Club and Resort project.

ACR developers plan to issue bonds through the IDA to pay for infrastructure in the project, so they will need approval from the IDA board to move forward.

Tom Lawson, one of the lead ACR developers, hosted the IDA meeting at his office at 95 Park St. The board is trying to meet in each of the different communities of the county, and when board members asked Lawson if they could hold a Tupper Lake meeting at his office, he agreed, Lawson told the Enterprise.

Article Photos

Adirondack Club and Resort developer Tom Lawson explains his plans for the Big Tupper Ski Area and the land around it to members of the Franklin County Industrial Development Agency board and the public including, from left, board member Les Parker, board Attorney Paul Cantwell, IDA CEO John Tubbs, Tupper Laker Jim Ellis, county Tourism Administrator Fawn Tatro and Tupper Lake town Supervisor Roger Amell.
(Enterprise photo — Jessica Collier)

That worked out especially well since he has a scale model of the project in the center of the main room of his offices. The model was created by Tupper Laker Dan Mecklenburg, and Lawson told board members he wants to use local workers for as many facets of the project as he possibly can.

Lawson explained the basics of his plans for the Big Tupper Ski Area and the land around it as board members watched, asking questions intermittently.

"It's quite a plan," said Don Dabiew, who represents the Bombay area on the IDA board.

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"Thank you," Lawson responded. "It's a big project."

He told board members that everything at the ACR except the private property, owned by people who buy into the project, will be open to the public, though the planned equestrian center will only have space for about 15 or 20 horses owned by members of the club, so the public likely won't have much reason to use that facility.

He also explained how he and his colleagues plan to build the project out as it sells, rather than building large swaths of it and then trying to sell each unit.

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THE ADIRONDACK CLUB AND RESORT, proposed by a Pennsylvania-based investment group called Preserve Associates, would overhaul the Big Tupper Ski Area in Tupper Lake and build out the land around it with about 700 luxury housing units and various amenities including a spa, a marina and an equestrian center. The project received permits from the state Adirondack Park Agency on Jan. 20 after eight years of negotiating, reworking the application and an extensive adjudicatory hearing.

In March, two environmental groups and three nearby landowners filed a lawsuit to challenge the APA's decision. That suit is working its way through state courts.

The project must also obtain a number of other approvals, including from the state departments of Environmental Conservation and Health, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the local town-village planning board.

"We've had a lot of interest, we're very excited about it, and we want to get going," Lawson said.

Other members of the public also attended the meeting and asked questions during the presentation, including Tupper Lake town Supervisor Roger Amell, village Mayor Paul Maroun, who also represents the town on the Franklin County Board of Legislators, Jim Ellis and Jim LaValley, who has headed up the mostly volunteer effort to run the ski slope until Preserve Associates takes it over. Phyllis Thompson, one of the landowners who is suing the state over the state Adirondack Park Agency's approval of the project, also attended.

After Lawson's presentation, board member Les Parker asked what the IDA can do now to work on the project. IDA Attorney Paul Cantwell and CEO John Tubbs told him that there's not much they can do now but get familiar with the project plans as they wait for the court case to finish.

After the formal meeting ended, Tupper Lake's representative on the IDA board, Rob Gillis, took a few IDA members on a boat tour around the area where the ACR is set to be developed. Cantwell, Tubbs, IDA Chairman Joe Perry and county Tourism Administrator Fawn Tatro attended.



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