The contentious debate over a large development project in the Adirondacks continues as supporters have released a poll showing residents want the jobs that could result if the Adirondack Club and Resort breaks ground.
In January 2012, the Adirondack Park Agency approved the largest ever development project proposed in the Adirondacks. The Adirondack Club and Resort planned in Tupper Lake had been under review for eight years and had been modified to meet agency, environmental and community concerns. Although the approval was granted nearly two years ago, ground has yet to be broken on any part of the project.
That’s because in March 2012, Protect the Adirondacks filed a lawsuit challenging the state Agency’s decision that has yet to be resolved.
ADK Works is an organization in Tupper Lake advancing the benefits of the development project. This week, the group released the results of a survey that shows two-thirds of Adirondack residents support the resort project, and 71 percent of residents with a favorable opinion of Protect the Adirondacks also support developing the resort. Realtor Jim LaValley, a spokesman for ADK Works, says what’s happening in the Adirondacks is symbolic of what’s happening in other areas. “You have a small minority that are preventing some very important things in the minds of the people. The economy really is the number one issue on most people's minds and to try and prove that fact we just felt we had to go the extra step and conduct the survey. So three hundred people were surveyed and it did show that the number one issue on people's minds is the economy at this point.”
LaValley says 300 temporary and 500 permanent jobs will be created as a result of the resort development. “What’s happened is that as the project tries to move forward the pending litigation stands in the way of investment dollars being brought in. But this is not a question of if, it's a question of when the project will be undertaken.”
Protect the Adirondacks Executive Director Peter Bauer notes the survey considers a very small sample size and the group is part of questions posed. “Protect the Adirondacks’ lawsuit is about holding government agencies accountable. We feel that rules and laws were broken in approving the project. And while ADK Works found in their polling, based on the questions they asked, if there’s strong support for job growth and there’s strong support for the ACR project. It would've been interesting if they had pulled the question of: Is the ACR project a good project if laws were broken during its approval process? Cause that’s really the crux of the issue.”
Bauer notes the applicant has not received any final permits and supporters are putting a lot of energy into public relations. “To come out with a fancy public relations poll that attempts to smear Protect is perfectly consistent with the long-term strategy of the APR project and its supporters. Our lawsuit is all about private citizens holding government agencies accountable. That’s what an Article 78 allows the citizenry of New York State to do.”
But Jim LaValley contends the poll was legitimate. He said it was not slanted and used a random sampling.. “We saw some people who were clearly in the corner of Protect the Adirondacks. And what is lost here is the fact that this went through eight years of rigorous review by the most restrictive land use regulatory agency in the lower forty eight states. It was approved by a ten to one vote. But again you have a vocal minority that feel that they know better than the actual regulatory agency that approved the project and they are taking frivolous action through the court system.”
Oral arguments have been delayed and a decision is not anticipated until mid-summer.