Jess Collier, at the Adirondack Daily Enterprise,has written a fascinating (and in some ways much more informative) blog post about all this. Check it out here.
If there’s one thing that all sides generally agree on with the Adirondack Park Agency’s review of the Big Tupper resort project, it’s the fact that the process has dragged on too long. Seven years and counting feels like an eternity.
As the Glens Falls Post Star points out in an editorial today, a “Tupper Lake high school graduate in 2004, when the process started, has had time to earn a master’s degree in hydrologic sciences, get hired by the APA and review the project herself.”
There have been times when this issue has been a political football, with pro-development folks blasting APA officials and environmentalists for what they viewed as lengthy nit-picking and second-guessing.
Some accused green groups of trying to run out the clock, working to kill the project with endless delays. Those cries resumed last week, when the green group Adirondack Wild pushed for more hearings before a decision is made.
But in conversations with people in Tupper Lake, and in the Post-Star’s editorial, I’ve seen a much more nuanced understanding of this problem begin to emerge.
The truth is that the developers, Michael Foxman and Tom Lawson, caused — or asked for — many of the delays.
Several supporters of the project have told me on background that they are critical of the developers’ decision to take the process into lengthy, closed-door mediation talks, a process that burned up months.
Mr. Foxman, meanwhile, has told me in no uncertain terms that with the housing market severely depressed, there are significant up-sides to this project being kept on the shelf so long.
But what’s good for the developers, or for green groups, or for state officials, isn’t necessarily good for the community, for the businesses and local workers in Tupper Lake waiting for some resolution.
The agency needs to enforce time limits on the different phases of its review process, for all parties. Agency staff should not be allowed to endlessly extend reviews with requests for new and different information, nor should multiple delays by developers be tolerated.
Fixing the system won’t be easy.
But APA commissioners have already expressed an interest in reforming the process once the Adirondack Club and Resort decision is made January 20th.