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Adirondack Park Agency Hosts Annual Local Government Day

Carl Heilman II

The annual local government day conference between the Adirondack Park Agency and diverse interests within the park began this afternoon.

The Adirondack Park Local Government Day Conference is actually a day-and-a-half long meeting in Lake Placid that brings together more than 200 governmental, agency, environmental, economic development and other interests to discuss regulatory and other issues facing the park. This year the conference focuses on advancing economic opportunities and provides updates on projects and initiatives within the Adirondacks.
Discussions range from community planning and enforcement of zoning laws to biomass, broadband and invasive species.                
Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board Executive Director Fred Monroe is on the planning committee for the conference.  “It’s an opportunity for local governments to give feedback to the agency and to DEC, DOT and other state agencies. It’s a forum where in one place you can network with a lot of different state agencies and other local governments. I think it has led to a lot of progress.”

Hamilton County Board of Supervisors Chair Bill Farber is on the panel that kicks off the conference - “Advancing Economic Opportunities Across the Adirondack Park.” He says finding economic opportunities that fit within the park has long been one of the things that must be figured out if there is going to be a sustainable park.  “We need to figure out where the opportunities are. For a long, long time people have been inclined to tout the challenges of being within the Adirondack Park. Where are the economic opportunities, those areas where we have a competitive advantage that’s unmatched in the Northeast, in the country, perhaps the world?  Because we’re competing against people way outside the Adirondack Park for visitors, for economic growth, for opportunity.”

Tourism has frequently appeared on the agenda during the 18 years of the conference and this time tourism promotion will be discussed.  Lake Placid-based Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism President Jim McKenna will present an overview of trends in marketing.  “The only clear trend today is that there is no trend. We have to be flexible on a continual basis.  Number two, talking about the millenenials and how things have changed through technology.  How we have to always be talking to our traditional and older customers but at the same time we have to position ourselves in a way that we can appeal to a younger audience as well.” McKenna is asked how that eventually helps the local governments.  “Tourism plays a big role in generating sales tax and real estate tax as well. I think our elected officials now are recognizing that if they can be in a position to help increase tourism that it can have a positive effect on property taxes in the region.”

Adirondack Council Executive Director Willie Janeway will be on Thursday’s Community Planning panel to discuss the use of road salt. He says the conference helps solve problems.   “The degree to which we have local government representatives, environmental representatives, the state there, the Park Agency, and others working together, how do we advance economic opportunities while protecting clean water? How do we do better local community planning? How do we enhance the outdoor recreational opportunities while better protecting from invasive species?  How do we better promote tourism? There’s a very specific agenda focused on actions that we can take together that are good for the Adirondacks, good for wilderness and good for communities. It’s one park and these conferences have come a long way, along with the Common Ground interest, in making sure we find things we can work on and actually solve problems rather than just debating problems.”

NYS DEC Commissioner Joe Martens is scheduled to announce $400,000 in Smart Growth Implementation grants to Adirondack communities during the conference.

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