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Survey To Gather Data On New Year-Round Adirondack Residents

Main Street, Lake Placid, NY
Pat Bradley/WAMC
Main Street in Lake Placid

Upstate New York has seen a migration of sorts caused by the pandemic, with evidence of people moving north out of the New York City area, in search of more space, the great outdoors, and a lower cost of living.

The Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism is a destination marketing firm based in Lake Placid. ROOST recently partnered with EDC Warren County on a survey to try understand the impact of new year-round residents in the Adirondack Region. 


WAMC's Lucas Willard spoke with ROOST CEO Jim McKenna about the survey and what he's observed in housing trends. 

Jim McKenna:  
Certainly like many areas across the country, Lucas, you know, you've talked to the real estate agents and there's been high demand for housing from people outside the region. People have even, you know, moved around here put into the region put kids in the local school districts. So, yes, there's there certainly has been a movement towards that, you know, really the pandemic has certainly added to that. But we've heard that across the board. What we you know, why we decided to do this research is that, you know, there's been a lot of media attention paid to that, but not, not a lot of good data to support what that means. But we figure that because of the assets that the Adirondacks has the great outdoor recreation opportunities, the small towns, the safety of the area, compared to metropolitan areas, all are are having are having more impact on people and you're looking for areas like this.
Lucas Willard:  
This summer was a particularly busy time for the Adirondacks, in recreation, outdoor recreation, hiking and camping, is your prediction that when people come up and see the Adirondacks for themselves, that they're more likely to say, you know what, I think I'm going to relocate here, or this would be a place to have a second home, did the exposure if you will to the Adirondacks caused in some part due to the pandemic, increased demand for housing and and everything else.
Jim McKenna: 
We think so Lucas, in some of the surveys to try to really determine that. And yes, we saw an influx of people. And historically, when people are first exposed to the Adirondacks, they do want to spend more time here, they would like to work here and live here. But that's phenomenal. It's been hard. However, with remote working or you know, really working from home is now a viable option. And we feel that we've probably never been better positioned than right at this time to really research that and figure out if that is something the Adirondacks participate in. And if so, then we can start really dealing with some of our community issues, growing population bases and all those other areas in it.
Lucas Willard:  
For a number of years, there's been the push for broadband internet access. That's just one example.
Jim McKenna:
Without doubt. I don't know if he had an opportunity to actually look at the survey. But we've certainly put all the ingredients that we know we have to have if we're going to be successful, you know, high speed broadband is right up there, childcare, you know, all those sorts of things that we're going to try to wrap our hands around, and then that gives us the data to support the advancement of those. What we're really hopeful for is that we see that there is a need for housing, and then having this data, we hope we can get some developers engaged in some of our communities and get some Community Housing established.
Lucas Willard:
Right. And that was going to be my question, because the state is in some tough financial straits right now. So with this data, is this going to help attract private companies and developers to the region, once it's all compiled when we have a really good snapshot of this is the amount of people that the percentage of people who are considering a move to the Adirondacks, this is the growth that we've seen just in the last year? How far is that going to go in attracting private development?
Jim McKenna:
That's really what we're what we're hoping for, certainly there be some state engagement when we talk broadband and cell service and some of those issues with some existing programs. But really, you know, the best way to grow things is through private investment. And, you know, we hate saying the word development so much, it's almost redevelopment and retooling what we currently have. And we're fortunate that in the Adirondacks and the Adirondack Park agency, we have development rights in the hamlet areas of the Adirondacks so that we know that we're not looking at really, you know, growing the population by 10 fold. But if we look at the population and the school enrollment, especially, there's been a definite decline if we can position in a way that can bring some of that potential remote workers to Riyadh around it. It helps us you know, really become more year round in our communities. And it's also like, diversifies not only our economy but also gives us an opportunity to diversify our population base. A couple of closing points, Lucas, is that, you know, the data out there nationally is showing this is happening. There's a, you know, corporations like Dropbox, Twitter's and others have adopted policies that allow employees to work from home permanently if they choose. And a lot of them are really looking at the possibility of moving to areas with more open spaces and more affordable at around the tip. Then there's been some other surveys done by You know some real estate brokerage firms that say 72% of homeowners surveyed said they expect to continue to work remotely as the pandemic slide. So we're positioned well to take advantage of it with the major metropolitan areas in Canada and also in the US surrounding the Adirondacks. We hope to position to alter the communities by new resonance in the future.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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