We read Peter Bauer's comments about a recent poll in which more than 60 percent of the respondents supported the Adirondack Club and Resort project and only 15 percent opposed it. Mr. Bauer never ceases to amaze. How can a full-time, professional lobbyist keep a straight face while complaining about a "fancy public relations poll"?
In a news article about the poll results, Mr. Bauer was quoted as saying that the lawsuit filed by his employer, a radical preservationist group called Protect the Adirondacks, "is about private citizens holding government agencies accountable" because it "feels" rules and laws were broken in approving the project. Those statements are so outlandish and so obviously untrue that it would be hard to react to them seriously if it were not for the harm being done to the members of the community, the only "private citizens" involved.
Anyone who is convinced by Mr. Bauer's assertions simply is not paying attention. Protect's actions made and continue to make it clear that it considers the Park residents acceptable collateral damage in its war to eliminate the human presence in the Park. Protect's record shows that its primary tactics are lobbying and, when that fails, litigation. Protect filed its action in the ordinary course of its business, not because we or the Adirondack Park Agency did anything wrong.
If the Park were in Africa or the Amazon and the local people were the victims of the soft (more gentle than gunpoint) eviction that is occurring in the Adirondacks, the United Nations and the Ford Foundation would be taking Protect and its related groups to task. The fact that Adirondackers do not wear exotic clothing or, perhaps, technically satisfy the definition of an "indigenous people" does not make them any less deserving. We urge you to read "Conservation refugees," an article by Mark Dowie in the November-December 2005 issue of Orion Magazine. (Just Google "Conservation refugees.") The ongoing involuntary displacement of 100,000 Adirondackers belongs in that story.
There is no reason for us, or our supporters, to smear Protect, as claimed by Mr. Bauer. Its record speaks for it and for us. It is a dedicated opponent of economic development within the Park boundaries, even though approximately 3 million acres of the land in the Park are private property and not part of the Forest Preserve. Mr. Bauer and his employer know that, without development, there will be few or no new jobs, tax rolls will decline, property taxes will increase, schools and businesses will close, and local residents will be forced to move away. That is why Protect filed the lawsuit. It is simply a tactical move in their war of attrition against the residents of the Park.
As to the poll results, suffice it to say that:
-Ninety-five percent of the respondent businesses in a survey conducted by the Plattsburgh-North Country Chamber of Commerce in 2006 supported the Adirondack Club.
-About 72 percent of the respondents in a recent poll by the Adirondack Daily Enterprise felt the Protect lawsuit had no merit.
-The governor, Senator Little and Assemblywoman Duprey support the Adirondack Club, as do virtually, perhaps literally, all levels of regional government, local service groups and political parties, including the boards of Franklin, Essex, Clinton and St. Lawrence counties; the boards of the town and the village of Tupper Lake including their supervisor and mayor and their planning board; the boards of the adjoining towns; the Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages; the Tupper Lake Chamber of Commerce; the North Country Chamber of Commerce; the Knights of Columbus; the Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion; the Lions Club; the Rotary Club; the Masons; the Tupper Lake Free Press; the Adirondack Daily Enterprise; the Republican and Democratic parties of both the village and town of Tupper Lake; the Tupper Lake school board; the Tupper Lake school teachers' union; ARISE (Adirondack Residents Intent on Saving their Economy); the Adirondack North Country Association; the laborers' and operating engineers' unions; the Northern Adirondack, St. Lawrence and Clinton County boards of Realtors; and the New York State Association of Realtors.
-The APA board voted 10 to 1 to approve the Adirondack Club application after discussing and reviewing the project for more than seven years.
We have that level of support because the Adirondack Club is well suited to its site, needed by its region and environmentally friendly.
We are leaving undisturbed 5,400 of the site's 6,235 acres. We are making extensive use of the existing 20 miles of on-site logging roads and trails. The APA hearing staff has said, on the record, that we did more to assess wildlife impacts than the nine relevant projects cited by an opponent at the adjudicatory hearing. The 6,235-acre project will involve a loss of only 1.47 acres of wetlands, and 2.68 acres of new wetlands will be created. We are deed-restricting almost all of the 4,739 acres of resource management lands. We eliminated a sporting clays course because we thought it might disturb a neighbor. We eliminated a wastewater treatment plant and more than 50 high-elevation, ski-in, ski-out lots. We limited the number of wood-burning fireplaces. We agreed that major buildings will meet LEED standards. We pledged to donate the unique oxbow on the Raquette River to the Natural History Museum of the Adirondacks. We agreed that the buildings on each of the 24 eastern great camp lots would be located within a 3-acre building area, and therefore, development is restricted to about 80 of the project's easternmost 3,300 acres. In addition, we are planning to open a closed ski area and marina, create hundreds of jobs and bring significant tourism and recreational opportunities to a region that has been denied all else for economic development.
That, not a PR campaign or phraseology, is why the poll results are as they are.
P.S.: We do not oppose conservation or true conservation groups. We do oppose extremist behavior in the name of conservation that is inconsistent with human welfare. For the cynical, we readily admit that our success will depend on protecting the natural beauty of the project site and the region as well as the vitality of the community. That is why the project is designed as it is.
Michael D. Foxman lives in Elverson, Pa., is head of Preserve Associates LLC and is the lead developer of the Adirondack Club and Resort in Tupper Lake. Tom Lawson, a partner in the development, lives in Tupper Lake.