Earning the mantle of Capital of the Adirondacks

This week, the Adirondack Daily Enterprise’s Chris Knight reported on Saranac Lake’s effort to rebrand itself as “capital of the Adirondacks.”

“We decided we should trademark it because we don’t want anybody else claiming they’re the capital of the Adirondacks,” Mayor Clyde Rabideau told the newspaper.

In a lot of ways, it’s a fair claim.

Saranac Lake is the biggest community in the Park, population-wise, and has so far managed to avoid the seasonal boom-and-bust cycles that plague  other thriving communities, such as Lake George and Old Forge.

The village has also maintained a robust resident population, where places like Lake Placid have struggled with the balance between locals and second-homeowners.

Saranac Lake boasts a remarkably diverse economy, when compared with most rural communities in the U.S. — one that includes biotech, tourism, the arts, retail, government, education, professional services, and more.

Finally, many of the Park’s administrators — from the DEC and the Adirondack Park Agency — live in Saranac Lake, commuting to their headquarters in nearby Ray Brook.

But despite those assets, I think Robert Moore, supervisor in the town of Webb, had a good point when he told the Enterprise that Saranac Lake’s bragging rights come with a price.

“Of course, you have to live up to the reputation you establish [as Capital of the Adirondacks] if you make that kind of a claim,” Moore said.

Right now, Rabideau and his fellow village leaders face some big hurdles and questions, which will likely define their tenures and perhaps the future of the village.

- The Trudeau Institute has raised the possibility that it could relocate some or all of its highly paid jobs to another facility outside the Adirondacks.

-The village of Saranac Lake has let the local comprehensive planning process collapse, after years of work by dozens of community-members.

(Full disclosure:  My wife, Susan Waters, worked on the comprehensive planning committee and served for four years as a village trustee.)

-A nasty feud has been allowed to fester in the heart of the downtown retail area that has left a crucial parking lot closed at a time when local businesses didn’t need any additional headaches.

-The community remains painfully divided by too many political jurisdictions, with three towns, two counties, two congressional districts, and a village government all vying to represent local interests.

Rabideau has already proved himself a brilliant communicator, introducing new festivals and working to rebrand the village.

The former Plattsburgh mayor has also worked successfully to ease much of the tension and ugliness that in recent years often paralyzed the village board.  Those are real and noteworthy accomplishments.

But if Saranac Lake hopes to earn and keep its lofty mantle as one of the Park’s pre-eminent communities, its leaders now need to show more tangible progress on some of these thorny, crucial issues.

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10 Comments on “Earning the mantle of Capital of the Adirondacks”

  1. Paul says:

    I think that maybe this “capital” stuff is something that SL should steer away from right now. This is something that may ruffle feathers with their neighbors in towns like Placid and Tupper. I think the best strategy right now is to do whatever it takes to get Adirondacks towns and villages to unite in ways that will promote development and growth. There a things that all three of the “tri-lakes” towns have that the other two can capitalize on. For example without the winter sports venues of Lake Placid and the other outdoor activities that are really focused over in that direction Saranac Lake wouldn’t have much of a tourism base in the winter. I have a good friend that owns a bed and breakfast in Saranac Lake. A huge percentage of their winter clients are headed to Lake Placid during the day. I also have a good friend that owns a marina in Saranac Lake. Some of his business is focused in Saranac Lake, but the vast majority of it is based on business from places like Lake Placid and the St. Regis Chain of lakes.

  2. I think it is a fair claim and to make it real SL needs to focus on unifying itself whether through city status or getting some boundarys redrawn. Promoting things that LP & Tupper can capitalize on as well is good but “divide & conquer” is the way smaller entities have always limited larger ones. As long as residents from across town (or even across the street) are in different jurisdictions there will be competing interests based on the different town or county.

  3. WTF says:

    I think calling Saranac Lake the capital of the Adks is pathetic. (disclaimer: I live in Saranac Lake and am proud of our community.) This (and many of Clyde’s other cheerleading initiatives) scares me. What is he (and the rest of the current board) doing to make Saranac Lake worthy of this title? Spending tax dollars on letterhead, daffodil festivals, and a regatta aren’t measures that are going to sustain or improve Saranac Lake.

  4. Mervel says:

    Well Wanakena is already “gateway to the wilderness” so that title is taken.

  5. Pete Klein says:

    No, no, no.
    Hamilton County is where the real Adirondacks is.

  6. oa says:

    Interesting that Clyde wants to trademark a phrase, when he brazenly stole the phrase “Mayor’s Cup Regatta” from the City of Plattsburgh’s annual sailing festival.

  7. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    I’m claiming the title of Lower Case of the Adirondacks. I’m also trademarking Italics, Bold and Underlining of the Adirondacks. Sans Serif? Why not.

  8. Paul says:

    “No, no, no.
    Hamilton County is where the real Adirondacks is.”

    See, I told you this is going to upset the neighbors.

  9. just say no says:

    sorry knuckleheaded- i’m the lower case guy, mervel and bret to confirm my dis-tatse of shift key usage, but i will share the title with anyone who posts all lower case.

  10. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    But a title must be capitalized! Who are you, ee cummings? I claimed Lower Case first and I’ll Capitalize it if I want to.

    AND WHILE I’M AT IT WHY DO PEOPLE GET SO UPSET WHY YOU DO THIS, but nobody cares if you do this?

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