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Groups Meet to Discuss Common Adirondack Issues

WAMC/Pat Bradley

Representatives from municipalities, non-profits, environmental and other groups met in Long Lake this week to discuss cooperative efforts in the Adirondacks.

The Common Ground Alliance was formed eight years ago to bring together the disparate voices within the Adirondack Park. About 175 people meet annually to discuss issues and review the progress of the Adirondack Futures Project — which offers six visions for the Park’s future in the next 25 years.
Chairman of the Hamilton County Board of Supervisors Bill Farber says there is a rich diversity in the group working to ensure a positive future for the Adirondack region.  “You’ve got school board members and school superintendents and people that are working in health care and representatives from the environmental community and representatives from state agencies and representatives from local governments and the list goes on and on. It’s just a very, very broad group of stakeholders. We had representation from the governor’s office this year and multiple state legislators participating. I mean it really was a very, very rich group of attendees this year and people that are all in a position to make a difference for the Park.’
Adirondack Futures Project Co-director Jim Herman facilitated the Common Ground forum and found progress in many areas.  “There’s tremendous progress on the issue of renewable energy. There’s progress on issues such as water quality management, fighting invasive species. The state of New York has been very aggressive now in trying to work on that. There were a number of work groups on the topic of main street revitalization, hamlet design for liveability and walkability. There is an emphasis in everything that’s being done right now in the Adirondacks around entrepreneurship.” 
Adirondack North Country Association Executive Director Kate Fish says the group reflects a greater sense of optimism about the region.  “There is a bigger embracing of what matters, what’s important and why we love our communities. That’s what I see and I think it’s happened not just because of Common Ground Alliance, but that’s certainly been facilitated.   I think the Regional Economic Development Council winning three years in a row has certainly changed people’s self-perception. Like oh, we matter, there’s something here that’s important. And I think one of the most exciting things that I see going on is young families moving in.” 
Adirondack Council Executive Director Willie Janeway echoes the theme of the meeting: “Collaboration Works.”   “When we sit down and talk together and respect each other we can come up with solutions to help better manage and protect the state lands and help local communities. The other big take away was the frequency with which people are looking to the state to take a leadership role in investing in infrastructure in the Adirondack Park.” 
A Common Ground Alliance working group paperwas issued. It takes an initial look at how the state constitution might be amended to allow communities to modernize infrastructure without requiring a constitutional amendment for individual projects. 

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