Morning Read: Cuomo brings jitters to Tupper Lake

So here’s a weird thing.  Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo barnstormed into Tupper Lake this week and no one in our region’s news media knew it was happening.

He then dropped by the campus of Sunmount Developmental Disabilities — Tupper’s biggest employer — and dropped this bit of sunshine.

“If I was a state worker and just a resident of the state, I would be afraid of what is coming ahead,” Cuomo said during the visit, according to WWNY television.

Even worse, Cuomo made the visit as part of a tour that included a visit to a former state facility in Fulton County that has become a state symbol for government waste.  This from the Adirondack Daily Enterprise.

Cuomo visited the Tryon School for Boys in Johnstown, a Fulton County state facility that hasn’t had students since the summer but can’t eliminate its workforce until January due to regulations about giving notice to unions on the closure.

The Enterprise’s comments section, responding to Jessica Collier’s story, is filled with gloomy, jittery comments like these.

The State jobs here are in serious jeopardy. Sunmount as we have known it, is soon to be on the hit list.

Sunmount will close,and Tupper will be a ghost town. It’ll be a little tourist town, like those on Rt. 9. Nothing wrong with it, just see the light folks, Tupper as we know it is coming to an end. Placid and SL will last longer-better tourist infrastructure. Sunmount is the next Camp Gabriels.

So what do you think?  Was Cuomo bringing the kiss of death to Sunmount?  Just dropping by to say hi?  And why not engage with local media and public officials while in the neighborhood?

As always, your comments welcome.

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21 Responses to “Morning Read: Cuomo brings jitters to Tupper Lake”

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  1. Crystal says:

    I have feared for awhile Sunmount would either be closed or there would be a cutback on workers. They are looking to cut somewhere and it seems upstate New York will see a share of it. It upsets me when you look at upstate New York and the fact that there are few new jobs, towns are basically dying. There is always talks about cutting welfare, etc but if there are no jobs what can a person do. It’s insane to think they can just pack up and move, most people live paycheck to paycheck. Its time for someone to make changes maybe loosen the APA’s hold. I am all for beautiful trees and scenery but people have to eat and pay mortgages. And the Adirondack museum is nice but lets be honest it didn’t seem to help the economy of Tupper Lake very much. You need real jobs and alot of them not just a few. No one can survive on just beautiful scenery.

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  2. Pete Klein says:

    Perhaps the real jobs in the future are not the real jobs in the past.
    Perhaps we would be better off if we were to focus on arts and culture instead of second homes and tourism.
    I’m thinking we need to attract young and vibrant people who want to live and work here in the arts, rather than people who just want to survive until they die while looking at the pretty trees, lakes and mountains.
    The environment can be the background;
    I’m thinking of Aspen, CO, The Adirondack Lakes Center for the Arts, Blueseed Studios, Newcomb Central attracting foreign students, etc.
    Maybe convert Sunmount into a movie and recording studio.
    We need the imaginations of artists to reinvent this lovely place.

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  3. I expect that he was talking about state workers statewide, not simply in Tupper Lake. As a former state worker I know that there are cuts that could be made (based on a purely budgetary decision) and I also know that whenever the state budget is in trouble state workers get hit hard. They are an easy target politically speaking.

    Closing facilities in NNY is harder on workers than in more metropolitan areas, not just state facilities either. It is the same when private industry shuts down and operation that is the lifeblood of a small community. When the mines closed in Lyon Mountain some of the workers went to work in the plants in Massena but they couldn’t sell their houses in Lyon Mountain so they bought vans and car pooled to work. It was a very localized version of the housing bubble where suddenly your home is worth less than what you owe.

    Managing the macro economy of small communities is a tricky business. We need economies that are broad based with a strong proportion of indigenous support. Any business or organization that is dependent upon a single customer has tied its fortunes to those of the customer. Unfortunately we tend to think in terms of large development in this country rather than small.

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  4. Bret4207 says:

    Pete, the “arts” require someone to purchase the art. In a depressed economy that’s not a realistic expectation.

    I think Tupper better do whatever it can to get that ski area complex moving ASAP.

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  5. Pete Klein says:

    Bret,
    Are winter sports realistic in a depressed economy?

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  6. phahn50 says:

    Pete Klein’s point is excellent. Attracting artists will make the community vibrant. And Bret – the artists can sell their art to the wealthy tourists who come to the ski area in Tupper (and Lake placid). No manufacturer is going to locate in the Adirondacks. The state can put in prisons etc, but there is a limit to that kind of economic activity, and as the population declines…. Attracting artists is a time-honored method for revitalizing an area.

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  7. Notinthevillage says:

    Maybe convert Sunmount into a movie and recording studio.

    Sunmount was built in the 1920′s. In modern buildings the structural integrity is fully supported by the outside walls. In older buildings the internal wall structure (like those at Sunmount) is integral to the buildings structural integrity. The cost of significant internal modifications to an older building can easily exceed the cost of bulldozing and putting up a new building. Bringing these old buildings up to modern energy efficiency standards with respect to insulation essentially requires building a new building inside the old building. Add in abatement for lead paint and asbestos. In the case of a movie or recording studio where you need upwards of 20 foot ceilings the costs would be astronomical.

    It seems to me that Sunmount is especially vulnerable. Its rather old infrastructure is without doubt relatively costly from an energy and maintenance standpoint which is further compounded by the harsh winter climate. From the states point of view layoffs at Sunmount may result in a larger savings than equivalent layoffs somewhere else in the state.

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  8. Pet might be onto something. Many moons ago Greenwich Village was “the place” to live if you were an artist. Now most artists can’t afford to live there. The well heeled decided if it was cool to live in “the Village” they wanted to be there. Then it was Woodstock. Same story. Only the most successful artists can still afford Woodstock.

    The other advantage for the Adirondacks as a center for arts is that artists produce higher priced items at low volume so they don’t need the kind of mass shipping infrastructure that a manufacturing firm requires. The UPS man is probably sufficient. And artists generally like places that have a higher quality of life. Just ask me why I stayed in NNY after the Army and college even though there weren’t a lot of jobs. ;-)

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  9. Bret4207 says:

    Good point Pete, but if the ski area/vacation condos are built that would seem to be a more stable enterprise than depending on “artists”. And, if the ski area things survives then maybe that’ll provide an outlet for those artsy types.

    I just have very little faith in any real sustainable economy based on “art” in the North Country. You have to have a reason for people with disposable income to come here in the first place.

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  10. DBW says:

    Ski areas do not bring the type of jobs that will keep our children here. I have seen it all before in Vt. in the 70′s. Ok as part of the mix, but not as a main industry.

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  11. Mervel says:

    If the Adirondack Park and its restrictions were the problem then places outside of the Park in Franklin and St. Lawrence County should be doing better than inside the Park, however, the opposite is true. The park the Adirondacks themselves and its protections are an asset. Without those come on up and see what places like Ogdnesburg, Massena and Malone look like we don’t have any park restrictions to deal with.

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  12. Notinthevillage says:

    If the Adirondack Park and its restrictions were the problem then places outside of the Park in Franklin and St. Lawrence County should be doing better than inside the Park, however, the opposite is true.

    That is a false dichotomy. How about other counties that partially inside the park? I wish I had more time to discuss this but I am leaving in a short while for the holiday.

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  13. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    It is really sad how helpless everyone sounds.

    Stop looking for someone else from somewhere else to provide jobs. If 25% of everyone in Tupper Lake took a skill they already have; carpentry, sewing, jewelry making, fly tying, carving, decoy making, knitting, basket making, photography, writing, baking…and made a concerted effort to turn it into a business, working hard at it in their spare time, learning about the trade, developing a market, improving their skills, networking with others in and out of their trade, in 5 years time maybe 20% of those people would have a business that provided them a decent full time income. Some of them would have a nice part time business. All of them would have saved money on Christmas and birthday gifts. And all of them would be better people, more skilled, have better job prospects and Tupper Lake would be a better place because an additional 4 or 5 % of the population would be working for themselves bringing money into the local economy.

    Jezum Crow! They say I’m the socialist; where the heck are all the entrepreneurs out there?

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  14. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    BTW, I do want to recognize Pete’s suggestion. Sometimes I have these fits.

    Here’s a link if anyone is interested in seeing how some people around the area are already doing it.

    http://www.etsy.com/shop_local.php?ref=fp_nav_local

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  15. Mervel says:

    Nor in the village,

    Yeah it would be an interesting study.

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  16. Bret4207 says:

    DBW, but they are a good part of the mix and an already existing part of this area- Whiteface, Gore, Titus. Add Big Tupper back into the mix and it’s a help. Add the Foxman resort and at least there is something there besides Sunmount.

    Mervel, that’s actually kind of a good point. Go look at the condos in Morristown that went up without major problems. That would never happen in the Park that simply. Same for the golf courses that were built without issue in the area over the past few years- Langbrook and Deerfield. It’s no biggie to take an old farm and turn it into a golf course outside that Park. But imagine if I proposed going to another old farm within the Park and tried to do that.

    While the Park itself is a draw, there are costs to it that are hard to put off as inconsequential. The best example of the problem is still the Blue Mt Museum. NO ONE would ever be allowed to build a commercial development like that, much less with the parking structure. NO ONE! Only the State or a politically correct enterprise can get away with that. And that’s the problem the common entrepreneur runs up against.

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  17. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Bret, a lot of development could be put in the park without much difficulty if the developers wanted to develop within designated Hamlets. Even parking garages.

    And I’m trying to tell you about the common entrepeneur but you aren’t listening apparently. The common entrepreneur is someone who starts a very small business and it grows over time. Big real estate projects are exactly the kind of thing that drove our economy into the trouble we’re in right now.

    Real estate agents, contractors and bankers worked in a chummy relationship to convince people that they needed to build bigger and more lavishly than they could afford. They told people that houses on a lake or golf course were better investments. Then they built lakes and golf courses to put the houses on, many of them in Arizona or Nevada. They told us that we needed to have a Master Bedroom Suite with a jacuzzi (TM) and steam shower; that every child deserved to have their own room. The average size of the home goes up and the cost of the house goes up and the contractor makes more money and the real estate agent gets a higher commision and the bank makes another loan to dice up and sell through Wall Street and the poor sucker who believed all the bull ends up paying for it.

    Time to start thinking like our ancestors did. Work for yourself, be frugal, and don’t depend on other people to do for you what you could be doing for yourself. Don’t sell a product through a middle-man if you can sell it directly. Add value to your own raw materials…hey, I’m giving out good stuff here, is anyone listening?

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  18. Bret4207 says:

    Hey, I was sold on the idea before you said anything about! But- what do the folks do until their personal enterprise takes of, if it ever does? And lets face it, not everyone has a skill or craft that is commercially viable. And you still have to have some disposable income in the area among the locals to buy the flies, toques, sweaters, chainsaw carvings of Dale Sr, etc. since there isn’t a large affluent population transiting the area.

    What the entire Northern NY needs is a mixture of industry, destination type resorts, service sector, home based and public sector jobs. We’ve got the service and public sector covered pretty well. It’s the industry and resort/sports/artsy type jobs we lack. And to be honest, this is a darn poor time to be hoping to develop new enterprises. But survival requires it.

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  19. Bret, I love it when you call me an “artist”. LOL. AN unstable part of the economy at that. More LOL. So how stable has the ski industry been in the Adirondacks or did Big Tupper go belly up because they were tired of raking in so much money?

    Artists, more artists that is since there are some here already, are not the sole answer of course but simply a way to increase the appeal that the Adirondacks already have. Along the Maine coast there are communities where artists and crafts people dominate the local economy. Ask one of them why they built a business where there was already so much competition and they will tell you “because there’s more traffic and more traffic means more business for me”. It’s the same reason small stores do well in malls.

    And no one said the small business has to be “Art”. Yesterday a young entrepreneur delivered a shed to me. Built with his own hands, put on a flatbed trailer and driven to my house where It will store my snowblower, lawnmower, etc. There’s an old saw that “the key to success is to find a need and fill it”. Those who have no skills what so ever should think about learning some. I go to a massage therapist who was in a job that was tenuous the last time we went through a budget crunch. She decided to go to school (7 months), got certified and set up a room in the back of her house. She now has a steady clientele.

    We need to stop looking for big solutions to everyone’s economic problem and start looking at what each of us can do. I’d like to see economic development change their focus from pushing businesses that promise to hire X number of people and have programs to develop the kind of skills that allow individuals to run their own business without necessarily hiring others.

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  20. Bret4207 says:

    James, I wasn’t aware I called you an artist. My apologies. Was it the chainsaw carvings of Dale Sr? My bad.

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  21. scratchy says:

    I think is a good idea. Of course not everyone has that skill set, but It’s something to build off of.

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