Common Ground alliance take on Adirondack future

This morning I blogged about the need for a new coalition to organize around protecting Adirondack-North Country interests in Albany.

A few minutes ago, this press release arrived in my in box…so I share it in its entirety with this In Box.


LONG LAKE, N.Y. — The Adirondack Common Ground Alliance today called on Gov. David Peterson to create a new economic development program for rural areas of the state where boosting small businesses can have a big impact on the economic health of villages and hamlets.

The Common Ground Alliance said the Governor could establish a new rural economic development program as he carries out his plan to replace the Pataki Administration’s Empire Zone Program with a new “Excelsior Zone” program.

Businesses located inside such zones get incentives to boost job creation. Gov. Paterson said too few of the Empire Zone businesses have lived up to their promises to create jobs. He has been eliminating Empire Zones around the state and said he plans to replace the program with his new Excelsior Zone program.

The Common Ground Alliance of the Adirondacks is composed of a diverse set of local leaders from the Adirondacks, including elected officials, private entrepreneurs, and representatives of education, economic development, health and environmental non-profit organizations who are dedicated to identifying solutions that benefit Adirondack communities, their economies and the environment.

The group’s letter to Governor Paterson explained that the Empire Zone program was mainly aimed at big cities and big employers. While that is not unusual in a state with a state with 20 million residents, the programs and business that work in big cities don’t always work in small villages and hamlets, where the need for economic development is just as urgent, they explained.

“There is widespread agreement on the establishment of an Excelsior Zone because the benefits not only accrue to individual businesses, but to the welfare of the citizens of and visitors to the Adirondacks as well,” said Ross Whaley of the Adirondack Landowners Association. “A new or expanded business that adds a handful of jobs might not qualify for state assistance if it was in a city, but those five or six jobs would be welcomed and appreciated in any Adirondack town.”

“Sixty-three percent of businesses in the Park employ 4 people or less, with a high percentage of self-employed. Small and micro-businesses must be seen as the bedrock of development and employment in the Park and be given strong attention in terms of State support and incentives,” said Lani Ulrich of CAP21, an economic and community development organization based in the southwestern Adirondacks. “Ventures in retail, hospitality, and other tourism-related services will remain crucial.”

“There is no inherent conflict between boosting small businesses and protecting the environmental health of the Adirondack Park,” said Brian L. Houseal, Executive Director of the Adirondack Council, the Park’s largest environmental organization. “Most of the Park’s small, private businesses rely on the protected forests and waters of the Adirondack Park for their long-term survival.”

“We also recognize that many of the recommendations contained in this letter would be appropriate for other parts of the rural Adirondack North Country, including the Tug Hill region, and could benefit additional areas of rural New York,” said Kate Fish, Executive Director of Adirondack North Country Association. “This should make the program even more attractive to the Legislature, which we will call upon for financial support.”

The Common Ground Alliance of the Adirondacks proposed three broad recommendations for policy changes that could be incorporated into the new Excelsior Zone program:

1. Designate the entire Adirondack Park as a special economic development zone. The zone should be responsive to issues of scale and respect the park’s natural character. Incentives are needed to overcome increased development costs associated with remote, mountainous areas, as well as limited infrastructure.

2. Create a comprehensive program specific to the Adirondack Park. It should include development of shovel-ready sites, capital investment tax credits, wage credit (similar to the federal program) and a task force to administer a state-supported seed-capital fund.

3. The Adirondack Planning Initiative, a group that was created at the Local Government Day in Lake Placid in 2008, should work with the Empire State Development Corp to develop a specific plan by September 2011.

Among those signing on to the letter to Governor Paterson were Cali Brooks of the Adirondack Community Trust; Carol Brown, President of North Country Community College; Michael Conway, Executive Director of the Adirondack Economic Development Corp.; William Farber, Supervisor, Town of Morehouse and Chairman of the Hamilton County Legislature; Dr. John Mills, President of Paul Smith’s College; Frederick H. Monroe, Executive Director, Adirondack Park Local Government Review

Board; Robert Perry, President of the New York State Snowmobile Association; and, Brian Towers of the Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages. A complete list is attached below.

The Common Ground Alliance is a forum for public-private collaboration. State and local governments, nonprofit organizations, stakeholders, and residents of the Park participate as equals. We work to recognize the common good of the communities, residents, and resources of the Adirondack Park, not to further specific organizational, institutional, or individual agendas.

Signatories on the Common Ground Alliance Letter to the Governor

March 2010 (Total of 70 signatures)

Richard R. Bird, Business Owner

Gail Brill, Adirondack Green Circle

Cali Brooks, Adirondack Community Trust

Carol Brown, President, North Country Community College

Rich Burns, Lead Account Executive, Energy Solutions Services- Northern National Grid

Donald Caldera, Country Business Services

Robert J. Camoin II, President, Camoin Associates

Deborah Carhart, Executive Director, Central Adirondack partnership for the 21st

Century, Inc.

Michael Conway, Executive Director, Adirondack Economic Development Corporation

Elizabeth Giardino Cooper, Town of Fine Community Development Coordinator

Ray Curran, Adirondack Sustainable Communities

Gerald Delaney, Councilman, Town of Saranac

Mike DeWein, Alliance to Save Energy

Bob Edwards, Supervisor, Town of Hope

George H. Edwards, Supervisor, Town of Ohio

William Farber, Supervisor, Town of Morehouse: Chair, Board of Legislators

Michael Farrell, Director of The Uihlein Forest, Cornell University Dept of Natural


Kate Fish, Executive Director, Adirondack North Country Association

Roger Friedman, Friedman Realty

Susan Day Fuller, Fuller Communications

Patrick Gallagher, former–Lake Placid Deputy Mayor, 2 term Village Trustee

Kevin B. Geraghty, Supervisor – Town of Warrensburg

Robert Hest, GM, Director Client Services, Fuller Communications

Greg Hill, Assistant Director, Adirondack North Country Association

Alan S. Hipps, Executive Director, Adirondack Community Housing Trust, Housing

Assistance Program of Essex County, Inc.

Holderied Family & the Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort

Eric Holmlund, Associate Professor, Environmental Science, Paul Smith’s College

Brian Houseal, Executive Director, The Adirondack Council

Norman Howard, Property Owner

Raymond Johnson, Founder and Director, Institute of Climate Studies, USA

Molly Kasriels, Board Member, Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism/Lake Placid


Linda Kemper, Supervisor, Town of Northampton

Charles W. “Chip” Kiefer, Publicity Director, Town of Webb

Claire Leonardi, Investor

Tom Leonardi, Investor

Maria Leonardi, Alliance to Save Energy

Scott Locorini, Adirondack Exposure, Whitewater Challengers

Hillarie Logan-Dechene, Vice President, Institutional Advancement, Paul Smith’s College

Howard Lowe, Dir. Economic Development, Technical Assistance Center-SUNY


Joe Martens, Open Space Insititute

James McKenna, Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism/Lake Placid Tourism

Dennis Michael, Vice President Central Adirondack Association

Dr. John Mills, President, Paul Smith’s College

Ed M. Milner, Past President Gore Mountain Region Chamber of Commerce

Frederick H. Monroe, Executive Director, Adirondack Park Local Government Review


Sue Montgomery-Corey, Supervisor, Town of Minerva

Robert Moore, Supervisor, Town of Webb

Marti Mozdzier, Executive Director, Tupper Lake Chamber of Commerce

Gail Murray, Secretary, The Artworks

Sylvie Nelson, Executive Director, Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce

Robert Perry, President, New York State Snowmobile Association

Dean and Donna Pohl, Raquette Lake Navigation

Victor J. Putman, Director, Essex County Department of Community Development and


J. R. Risley, Business Development Director, Adirondack Economic Development


William F. Rivet, Jr., Rivet Realty LLC

H. Bruce Russell, Supervisor Town of Bellmont

Teresa R. Sayward, Assemblywoman, 113th District

Dave Scranton, Chairman – Inlet Planning Board

Jane E. Slack, Business Owner

Justin Smith, Prestige Hospitality Group, Northwoods Inn

Zoe Smith, Director, The Wildlife Conservation Society’s Adirondack Program

The Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce

Brian Towers, President, Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages

Tupper Lake Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors

Lani Ulrich, Steering Committee Member Northern Forest SEI

Gregg Wallace, Wallace Contracting

Christopher Westbrook, Director SUNY ESF Ranger School, President, Clifton-Fine

Economic Development Corporation

Ross Whaley, Adirondack Landowners’ Association

Susan A. Wing, Senior Vice President, Financial Advisor, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney


1 Comment on “Common Ground alliance take on Adirondack future”

  1. Paul says:

    Promoting the wilderness character of the Adirondacks, whether you are Verplank Colvin (yesterday), or the Adirondack Council (today) is one of the main drivers that has lead to second home development in the Adirondack Park. It is perhaps an unintended consequence, but a consequence none-the-less. Environmental groups are probably one of the main “marketers” for the area. Look at the videos regarding the Adirondacks on the Nature Conservancy’s website. They make me what to buy a place nearby. I rode the chairlift at Whiteface the other day with a couple from New Jersey, their next stop was Saranac Lake to look at some second homes.

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