In Adirondacks, a furious debate over people

The last couple of years, a furious debate has raged in the Adirondacks over what sounds like the wonkiest, nit-pickiest thing in the world:  demographics.

Is the Park’s population growing or declining?  Is the community aging its way into a Japan-style senescence, where nursing homes will replace public schools?

Or are we a hip, lifestyle-driven region, where a lot of active baby boomers are choosing to retire, investing their dollars, their creativity and their leisure time in our mountain towns?

The reason that this debate takes on such intensity is that population trends are seen as a shorthand for the state of the Park itself.

If communities are thriving, or even doing sort of okay, then maybe the regulatory scheme, environmental controls, and state land ownership that define the Adirondacks aren’t so bad after all?

This is the position generally taken by prominent blogger John Warren (who curates Adirondack Almanack) and conservationist Brian Houseal (head of the Adirondack Council).

“It shows that environmental protection doesn’t drive away residents,” Houseal said, in a press release, following release of US Census numbers earlier this month.

“It reinforces out believe that the Adirondack Park is a special and desirable place to live, not in spite of special land use rules, but because of them.”

On the other hand, if our small towns are tipping off the edge of a demographic cliff, then surely that’s an indictment of job-killing over-regulation, and expansion of the forest preserve that’s squeezing out private sector development.

This is the position adopted broadly by Fred Monroe, head of the Adirondack Local Government Review Board.

“The Council is wrong,” Monroe told the Glens Falls Post-Star. “They’re trying to say everything is just rosy. They’re just trying to discount the APRAP.”

He’s referring to a study conducted by the Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages which first raised alarms about demographic trends in the Park and our aging population.

NCPR will be looking at these questions in more detail in the weeks ahead, but in the meantime here are a couple of observations:

First, it’s obviously good news that the population inside the Park overall is fairly stable, especially when compared with other parts of upstate New York.

Over the last half-century, Buffalo has lost more than half of its population, while Rochester and Syracuse have lost about a third of their people.

By contrast, the Post Star’s analysis found that towns located entirely inside the Park lost about 1,800 people over the last decade, roughly a 1-2% decline.

What’s more, a big share of the slippage inside the blue line occurred in one place: Hamilton County.

I make this point because I think Hamilton County is a unique situation and warrants special attention.  New York’s most rural, remote county is clearly teetering and it’s unclear why.

Maybe it’s entirely because of the Park and its rules, but if that’s true then why is Essex County — also located entirely inside the Park — growing modestly?

(I suspect that Hamilton’s woes have more to do with extreme isolation, distance from interstates and even modest urban centers, than with the Park and its regulations, but this is a question that deserves a lot more scrutiny.)

It’s also pretty clear that population is trending toward the fringe of the Park, with most of the growth concentrated in communities that straddle the blue line.  Indeed, growth in those areas actually outstripped most of New York state.

I think it’s also fair to say that our current stability is a fragile thing, which is why it’s good that we’re having this conversation.

While some Park communities (Saranac Lake, for example) are doing very well by rural American standards, others (Indian Lake, Willsboro) are on downward trajectories, losing grocery stores, schools, churches and (most importantly) young people.

What’s more, as local and state governments move aggressively to cut jobs, the economy of many Adirondack towns faces an existential crisis.

So long as communities like Moriah and Tupper Lake rely on Albany for their prosperity — such as it is — they will be communities on risky life support.   That’s hardly a success story.

The bottom line is that the latest Census numbers paint a fairly nuanced, complicated portrait of the Park’s population.  Neither side in the debate can say flat-out that their point of view is vindicated.

Which means we need to keep poking hard at these questions:

In what ways is the Park boosting our communities as desirable, attractive destinations, for visitors, but also for families and businesses? What advantages does it give us over other rural regions?  How can we enhance this?

In what ways is the Park choking our communities with over-regulation?  Are we discouraging even those kinds of development and growth that don’t significantly harm the beauty and wildness of the place?  If so, how can we eliminate some of these hurdles?

As always, your thoughts welcome.

Tags:

65 Comments on “In Adirondacks, a furious debate over people”

  1. Bret4207 says:

    Jobs Brian, it’s all about jobs. A major portion of Essex Co’s population is within what? 15 minutes of the Northway? Contrast that with Newcomb. 30 years ago I was working in Newcomb and it was relatively thriving. Look at it now. Why? Jobs. Hamilton Co is even worse. Tupper Lake in Franklin Co is a shadow of it’s former self. Jobs, it’s that simple.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  2. dudelivin says:

    Maybe its about leadership. In many towns in Hamilton County, the same fold have been in change for the last 30 years. Maybe they are not successful at bring in jobs.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. tourpro says:

    Rural to Urban demographic trends are not unique to the Adirondacks.

    Also, who determines what the “proper” population level of any place on Earth should be?

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  4. scratchy says:

    Brian Mann,

    Actually, recent census data show that upstate NY grew in population while the Park declined. Even excluding Hamiltion county, the Park’s population declined. The data on Syracuse and Rochester our very misleading and largely a reflect people moving to the suburbs in search of better schools and less crime and not a massive drop in upstate new york’s population. Aside from western new york and the Adirondacks, all major regions of upstate new york gained population over the last 10 years, including the north country as a whole.

    I think Hamilton county has much more Forest Preserve areas (some town have 95% of their land declared forst preserve) and more stricly zoned areas than Essex county.

    You say it’s bad for the Park to rely on government jobs, but how can they attract businesses when it takes businesses year and years to obtain approval from the APA? Only very wealthy business owners could afford those delays and even if they can why would when they can go somewhere else?

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  5. Peter Hahn says:

    From a demographics point of view, currently, most children are born in hispanic or other recent immigrant families, and the adirondacks are relatively immigrant-unfriendly. Additionally, most ambitious young people in New York move to New York City where the job opportunities are – especially in the “start-ups” – some of which are started by the departed young people.

    Popular. Like/Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  6. Paul says:

    I think that the jury is probably in on what the Adirondack economy is going to be based on in the future, tourism. To develop a tourism based economy you need to very actively promote the idea of development. It is not enough to simply say that it is NOT difficult to do this project or that project. The jury is still out on whether or not folks really can embrace the idea of actively developing the Adirondacks. In places where they have tried hard to do this, Lake Placid and Lake George are a few examples, it has been somewhat of a success. But in Lake Placid it was not easy. We had to modify the the state constitution to allow for venues to be built on Forest Preserve land. Good luck doing any thing like that in the future. As the public sector economy in the Adirondacks goes away as most predict, the area will only be left with tourism as the main driver of the economy.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  7. Peter Hahn says:

    The hip, lifestyle-driven baby boomers retiring here are probably the best hope for the future. And they (we) wouldnt move here if it werent for the park.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  8. George Nagle says:

    We should not frame the issue as “population stable or growing, therefore regulation good” vs. “population stable or declining, therefore regulation bad.”

    Brian Mann’s last two paragraphs set forth legitimate, important questions, but unless they are seen in a broader context any answers will be misleading.

    As tourpro notes, “rural to urban demographic trends are not unique to the Adirondacks.”

    Labor supply both in quantity and educational attainment, infrastructure quality, access to suppliers and markets, cultural attractions, medical-dental-pyschological services, support for entrepreneurs, level of taxation, and
    availability of affordable housing, are some relevant factors apart from regulation.

    Perhaps a useful inquiry would compare the Park to other rural counties in New York, or to those in North or South Dakota.

    Teasing out the effect of regulaton from other factors strikes me as difficult be not impossible. Only if it’s done will any conclusions be credible. Otherwise, we’ll have more sound and fury signifying nothing.

    Popular. Like/Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  9. Pete Klein says:

    Just a couple of observations.
    First, both so called sides in the debate tend to go off the deep end.
    Second, way too often I see someone claiming the state owns 90% of the land. It doesn’t. It owns about 50%. Even in Hamilton County, there is only one town, Arietta, which has about 95% owned by the state but this is a little misleading if you know anything about geography. Arietta has only two main roads, Rt 28 and Rt. 10. A majority of Arietta was never available for development. A majority was owned by the timber/paper companies who have gradually been selling out to the state. Why? Because large land owners such as the timber/paper companies have no interest in being real estate developers. When they want to sell, they want to sell large chunks quickly. What would you have them do? Not pay their taxes and just walk away as was done back in the day of cutting and running? Would the towns like that?
    You need to be a bit real about what goes on up here.
    I also find it interesting that most of the crying about the APA and the state own land comes from areas where the state owns very little land.
    Zoning? I won’t name names but I will say I hear more complaints from people who have to go before a local planning board than those who go before the APA. What does this say?
    Certainly for Hamilton County year-round residents distance to a semi-major city such as Glens Falls can be a problem. It shows up most clearly when an ambulance run from Indian Lake to Glens Falls means the ambulance crew is away from their jobs and their families for at least 3 hours!
    Back in the day of the Governor’s report on the Adirondacks in the 21st Century, you know the one where the nuts wanted to start a war, there was one thing in it that would have helped Hamilton County immensely. The report suggested a two year college should be located in Hamilton County. It was a good idea then and is a good idea now. But hell, no one cares about Hamilton County except the people who continue to live, work and get elected here to local town governments and school boards. Our representatives in Albany really don’t seem to care. It doesn’t matter that we always vote Republican. Our votes don’t get them into office so what do they care?

    Popular. Like/Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  10. George Nagle says:

    In the first sentence of last paragraph, substitute “but” for “be”.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  11. Walker says:

    The economy of the Adirondacks has historically been based on lumbering, tourism (hunting/fishing/hiking/camping), and light manufacturing. Lumbering and manufacturing have all but vanished as a direct result of world-wide economic forces. Tourism is what’s left, like it or not.

    Given that reality, folks ought to be happy that the wave of boomer retirements are helping to keep businesses chugging along in the park.

    Popular. Like/Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  12. Peter Hahn says:

    Other things being equal there is no reason a business would locate in these mountains today – APA or no APA – other the tourist industry. You can go down the list of (non-tourist) industries in other rural areas – agriculture – mining – energy extraction – forest products – and none of them would be successful here in todays global economy. There might be more successful bedroom community development near Albany if the park werent here, but thats about the only downside to the park in terms of development.

    Popular. Like/Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  13. Paul says:

    “Tourism is what’s left, like it or not.” Walker this is somewhat historic. You and I are in complete agreement. What do you think is the best way to develop the tourist economy in a way that will bring jobs and money to the Adirondacks?

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  14. Snowflake says:

    Ah yes, Peter Hahn speaks as a member of the Adirondack elite class. The class of people regardless of income who know better than anyone else how things should be in the PARK. As someone who actually lives in the PARK for over 35 yrs and has made a pretty good living here, until recently, I resent the implication that the people retiring here will be our “saving grace”. People who can afford to retire here or even live here part time don’t shop in the local stores, don’t use the local Drs. and Hospitals unless it’s an emergency and don’t socialize with the local people. You don’t run for office in your communities but complain about subsidizing the schools with your taxes. You pay large sums of money for properties and price out people who have lived in their homes for generations, and then say it’s not fair that you are paying so much money for a resource that you wouldn’t even send your own children or grandchildren to.
    Bret is correct “JOBS” are what is required at this point. If you want to keep this a PARK then government jobs are required to support it because private sector jobs in a PARK are not permanent, reliable jobs but temporary, seasonal jobs.
    Brian – You Left out NYS gov. support of Lake Placid. Goverment support is not restricted to prisons and mental institutions. Lake Placid recieves plenty of Gov. support through ORDA.

    Hot debate. Like/Dislike Thumb up 3 Thumb down 9

  15. Pete Klein says:

    Correction alert. I wrote Rt 28 when I meant to write Rt. 8.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  16. As Brian M has often pointed out, the Adirondack Park is in much better shape than most of the rest of rural New York. Conservation efforts allow for the tourism industry that’s so important to the region.

    There is no Catskill Park Agency. What does that region look like?

    Popular. Like/Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  17. Tony Hall says:

    I have come to the belated conclusion that it makes little sense to speak of the Adirondacks as one, distinct region. Land use regulations and the Forever Wild clause (the only things that come to mind that have bearing on every community within the park) will affect different communities in different ways.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  18. John Warren says:

    From the Post Star:

    “According to a Post-Star analysis of recently released 2010 census data, the 70 towns and villages that lie entirely within the park collectively lost 1,848 residents, dropping the segment’s total population to 127,904. In contrast, the 31 towns and two villages only partially inside the park added 5,294 residents, a 4 percent growth — double the statewide growth trend.”

    Those are the towns were there is access to jobs and a commuter culture is expanding at a dramatic rate. Limiting the discussion to only those towns entirely within the blue line is misleading. Again.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  19. Paul says:

    John, How is this observation misleading??

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  20. Walker says:

    Paul, I don’t have _the_ answer to keeping tourism healthy in the park, but clearly it involves keeping the park beautiful. To me that means limiting, but not stifling, development: downtown Tupper Lake is not presently beautiful, but it could conceivably become so if the ACR does well. But if the ACR developers were given carte blanche, it’s a pretty safe bet that Mt. Morris would end up badly scarred. So it’s a matter of balance. That process appears to be working, as long as the environmental groups don’t go overboard in opposition.

    And I agree that the Post-Star analysis isn’t entirely misleading, as long as it isn’t taken to suggest that if we just got rid of the APA, then all the towns in the Adirondacks would be thriving– a specious argument at best.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  21. Bob S says:

    The Northway I believe has a tremendous effect on the population stability of the park. I’m guessing that without the northway the figures would be very different. I was born, raised and lived the first 60 years of my life in the mid-hudson valley but I spent every summer since 1948 in Minerva. I fully intended to retire and live in the park and in anticipation of that I bought land in Minerva 20 years ago. When I did retire 10 years ago I realized that I needed to be near the northway so I sold the Minerva land and built my retirement home in Chestertown. I do not think my situation is unique.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  22. John says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4kiGoyo-v4

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  23. Will Doolittle says:

    The demographic data does not prove a point of view — it does not prove that strict state zoning has been good for the economy of the Park, not does it prove it has been bad for the economy of the Park. Nor is the fight primarily over the question of the Park’s economy. Yes, if the economy of the Park’s towns and villages was generally booming or generally sinking, it would be relevant to the zoning debate. But, it’s a mixed bag, as it almost certainly would be in a huge area, with various sorts of communities. The debate is over what you see as the proper mix of preservation and development. Some hardcore environmentalists want fewer people in the Park, so saying the population is going down is no argument for looser land use controls to them. And some people would be glad to see the Tri-Lakes villages have 50,000 people each. That Saranac Lake has added a few hundred over the past decade means little. I don’t think digging into the demographics will yield anything definitive, nor change anyone’s mind on the central issues of the Adirondack Park. Each side will embrace some of the data — It’s terrible that all the kids are leaving! It’s great that so many middle-aged people are retiring here! — and ignore some of it.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  24. scratchy says:

    John Warren says:

    “Those are the towns were there is access to jobs and a commuter culture is expanding at a dramatic rate. Limiting the discussion to only those towns entirely within the blue line is misleading. Again.”

    Those towns are only partially subject to the Park’s rules. The growth areas may be in the parts of towns that are not inside the Blue Line as zoning regulations may make construction in the Park too expensive. Also, some partial Park Towns, like Remsen in Oneida County, only have a tiny part of their town in Park.

    With regard to towns in the Park doing better than ones outside the Park:
    Only one North Country county lost population: Hamilton which is entirely within the Park. All of the North Country counties located either entirely or partially outside the Park gained population. So, no, I don’t buy the idea that Park communities are doing better than other rural communities.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  25. Paul says:

    Is there any good data on the summer versus winter populations in the Adirondacks? I spend time in Woods Hole most summers. The winter population is about 30,000 the summer population is about 100,000. There are big swings in tourist towns.

    Census data is only a small part of what is going on demographically.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  26. inthegardenofeatin says:

    “Some hardcore environmentalists want fewer people in the Park”

    Name one.

    Popular. Like/Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 3

  27. Walker says:

    It’s hard to look at household median income data and conclude that the park is bad for towns economically. I’ve chosen rural towns to the Northwest of the park for comparison. If it was the APA rules that were stifling the park towns economically, you’d expect the towns outside the park to be doing better than towns in the park.

    Ogdensburg – $27,954
    Long Lake – $29,583
    Malone – $27,716
    Saranac Lake – $29,754
    Moira – $26,393
    Tupper Lake – $35,636
    Brushton – $18,750
    North Elba – $35,329
    Lawrenceville – $31,715

    Unfortunately, these are 2000 Census figures. It will be interesting to see how it looks when the 2010 data comes out.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  28. dave says:

    A few thoughts.

    Fostering tourism is first and foremost about attracting people… it is not mainly about development. Yes, developing a place is one way to attract tourists. After all, people love them some Disney Land. People also love them some wild and natural spaces. Which do you think is a better fit for the Adirondacks? Right, now concentrate on attracting people who want that. We have a serious PR and advertising problem up here. Take a look at those “Pure Michigan” ads to see an area marketing itself properly.

    The claim that it takes a business years to setup shop here is dubious. The APA has 8 pre-permitted industrial parks, shovel ready, waiting for development. The APA is not the reason those parks are empty. And obviously there is no delay for anyone wanting to setup a typical small business – the type of growth towns should be encouraging in my opinion. In my community, for example, I have watched 4 small businesses appear out of nowhere in the last 12 months. I assure you these young folks were not waiting years for this to happen.

    Speaking of young people. I have now met approximately a dozen and a half young (35 and younger) couples. They have become my immediate social circle since moving here. None of them, not one single one of them, would tell you they relocated here because of anything other than the Park.

    The fact that people are crowding up next to the Park at rates that exceed other rural areas of NY says to me that the Park is an attraction. Not sure how anyone could spin that negatively. If I was unable to live in the Park for whatever reason, you could sure bet I would want to live as close to it as possible. All positive data for the Park.

    Popular. Like/Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  29. Snowflake says:

    I see that the towns with the highest median income within the PARK happen to be Tupper Lake and Lake Placid. Could this possibly be due to gov. employment? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating for more prisons or even keeping open the ones that are here already. I’m just saying that if this is going to be a PARK it cannot be sustained with private sector employment without allowing additional development. I’m all for keeping that development close to the existing hamlets and I think that the ACR development is within that envelope. I would like to see the DEC be funded to have more trails, campsites, boat launches and roads maintained properly. If there is not some development in the central PARK communities they will dry up and wither away and we will have a PARK that is more like a National Park than what the Adirondack Park was envisioned to be and that my friends would indicate to me that the great experiment has failed.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  30. Scratchy: according to a census graph published in the GF Chronicle (weekly), 17 counties in NYS, all upstate and mostly rural, lost population from 2000 to 2010. Of those 17, only Hamilton is in the North Country. Every county with land inside the Park gained population (except for Oneida, which has only a tiny microsliver of land inside the Blue Line). The North Country is doing better in this regard than most of the rest of rural NYS.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  31. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    I’m with Dave (if he’ll have me) in that I see young people who are more willing to take a chance on their own business. Growth alone isn’t a measure of the strength of a community, but it does say something about whether people think a place is worth living in. The numbers show that people see more opportunity, of one kind or another, in or near the Park than many other areas of the state.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  32. Paul says:

    “Name one.”

    Me.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  33. Walker says:

    Snowflake, you’re probably right about North Elba, and Tupper certainly, but Long Lake is interesting. And check these out

    Newcomb – $32,639
    Johnsburg – $30,559
    Chester – $37,452
    Wells – $29,107
    Speculator – $33,393
    Clifton – $33,950
    Fine – $32,112

    They’re all doing better than Ogdensburg, Malone, Moira and Brushton.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  34. Walker says:

    Oh, and Snowflake, my wife and I retired here five years ago, and we very definitely shop in local stores, use local doctors, vote for the school budget, and we bought a house well under the average cost of a house in Saranac Lake. So while I’m sure that the kind of person you’re profiling exists, you’re dead wrong to assume you know where anyone in particular is coming from.

    Popular. Like/Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  35. Snowflake says:

    If the Park is truly destined to become a tourist mecca the entire Park community should be supporting the “Rails to Trail” initiative which would seriously help with some of the smaller communities along the way. I personally don’t care whether the trains stay or go as long as there is a reasonable trail in the DOT corridor for biking in the summer and snowmobiling in the winter. Now that would be money well spent. As usual, Lake Placid is taking the initiative here and Tupper Lake cant get beyond the ACR.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3

  36. Snowflake says:

    Walker, Don’t get me wrong. I live here because of the Park! But I want to be able to keep living here. I enjoy the Park lifestyle just like you do and I am currently still able to live here but I have my eyes wide open and my ear to the ground. I’m involved in alot of community discussions with alot of different types of people with alot of different ideas and I’m just calling it like I see or hear it most of the time. The local people in some of these communities are scared to death whether you choose to believe it or not. There are at least 12 vacant storefronts in Lake Placid right now. I’m happy you are here but you’ve only lived here 5 years. If Sunmount were to close tomorrow Tupper Lake would literally become a ghost town and take Long Lake with it.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  37. Will Doolittle says:

    In the Garden: “Name one.” OK — John Davis, formerly of the Adirondack Council and, years ago, of EarthFirst!

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  38. Walker says:

    Snowflake, we’re in the middle of the worst recession since the Great Depression– people all over the country are scared (not the least because one of our great political parties and their media mouthpieces find it in their interest to keep people scared).

    If we had an actual Democrat in the Governors office (i.e., one willing to tax the wealthy to keep the state running) our towns wouldn’t need to be so frightened about losing state payrolls.

    And if we had an actual Democrat in the White House (same criteria, plus cutting Defense) I imagine we could turn the fact that companies are earning record profits and sitting on vast piles of unspent cash into a real recovery. However, given the apparent allegiances of those two gentlemen, and the forces they’re up against, being very afraid is probably a rational stance.

    Popular. Like/Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  39. Walker says:

    Speaking of which, the latest New York Times/CBS News poll has 72% of all adults (including 55% of all Republicans!) in favor of raising taxes on the wealthy. And yet our Congress can’t manage to do so—if you needed a sign that we have become a plutocracy, plain and simple, there it is!

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  40. oa says:

    teh taxes are teh bad!!!! and teh rich will move away!

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  41. Snowflake says:

    “Of the 1%, By the 1%, For the 1%” a good read recent Vanity Fair Article

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  42. Bret4207 says:

    Having lived and still having ties in Johnsburg, Long Lake, Newcomb, Tupper and the Ogdensburg area I have to say those figures Walker posted don’t tell the whole story. For instance, most of Newcomb is retired folks. Lots and lots and lots of retired folks. A great portion of Johnsburgs population commutes to the Glens Falls area for work. Long Lake is another area with a great many retired people and Ogdensburg, the city itself, is 70% tax exempt lands owned by the Church, OBPA, the State, etc. A good deal of the rest is sadly approaching slum status. So rather than depending on median income census figures, a more accurate way to judge things would be to somehow obtain the median income of working age families. A person retiring to Long Lake for instance from a high level job in Ct. or NJ where he left a $100K+ a year job is going to throw things off, a dozen such people is such a small town will really load things towards an inaccurate result.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  43. Bret4207 says:

    Actually, what would be more interesting to me would be to compare median incomes in Newcomb, for instance, back in 1960 or 70 when Tahawus was still in operation IP and Finch were going strong. to the rest of the areas. I’m pretty sure you’d find life was good in those days with in the Park because of JOBS.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  44. Walker says:

    Bret, there’s no doubt that two of the three major sources of jobs within the park are history. But the median income of a town is still the median income. The guy who runs the grocery store doesn’t care how you come by your money– they just want people to come in and buy stuff, so they can pay their bills.

    It really doesn’t matter if life used to better or worse. What are we going to do now with what we’ve got?

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  45. Jim McCulley says:

    Lets think about this probably most successful area of the Park, Lake Placid. Because they use state land for something other than allowing trees to rot on. Then we talk about Newcomb all state land with most restrictive wilderness classification, it’s dieing. Then there’s Old Forge they themselves bought large tracks of land to have multi use recreation. They are very successful, Hamilton County state owns 95% of the land poverty stricken and losing population. Do the math.

    Hot debate. Like/Dislike Thumb up 3 Thumb down 4

  46. Peter Hahn says:

    Lake Placid has Whiteface mountain and ski resort (state jobs).

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  47. Peter Hahn says:

    One possibility for non-state jobs would be if super high speed broadband connections were available. then maybe some of the high tech companies in Albany (or even Montreal) might locate small back-offices and laboratories for people who want to live in the park. But those (high-paying) jobs would be for people who would be highly trained and (probably) come from somewhere else.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  48. scratchy says:

    With regard to median income in the Park: the cost of living (especially housing) is quite high in some areas of the Park, especially the main tourist towns. The rest of the North Country has affordable housing, except maybe the immediate Fort Drum area.

    ALso with regard to permitting regulations. Many granted in a reasonble time. The long delay in Big Tupper, however, may put a chilling effect on future development by sending the message that the Park is unfriendly to business. I suppose that may be the whole point for some people. Even if big tupper is built, the environmentalists opposed to the project have some sense won.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  49. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Discussion of the economy of Newcomb does not prove what some here think it proves. In fact it is just the opposite. The APA did not shut down the mine nor did it force Finch Pruyn to sell its woodlands. Those were business decisions. Businesses decided it was cheaper to get the raw materials they needed elsewhere.
    Lesson to be learned: don’t count on large businesses to save your local economy.

    Popular. Like/Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  50. Mervel says:

    But I think the true comparisons are with communities in the North Country that are not in the Park. Places like northern St. Lawrence County, northern Franklin County, etc.

    As a person living in St. Lawrence County I have a real real hard time shedding tears over minute population variations in what looks to me to be relatively wealthy communities within the Adirondack Park. We have close to 30-40% of residents in slc receiving some form of public assistance, over half of our births are to women on medicaid or no insurance at all. Look at the average incomes and rates of poverty, it seems to me we would be better of extending the Park up here!

    Hamilton county is like every other relatively rural county in this country they are losing population, I don’t see it as a big issue other than looking at nationwide demographics which favor urban/suburban areas, a trend going on for the last 50 years in the US.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

Comments are closed.