APA planning director retires

RAY BROOK – The state Adirondack Park Agency has lost another veteran member of its staff.

Jim Connolly, the agency’s deputy director of planning, retired on Friday. He’s held the position for the past 11 years. He served as the APA’s interim executive director from May 2008 to August 2009. Before his tenure with the agency, Connolly worked for the state Department of Environmental Conservation for 20 years, including 12 as its Lake Champlain management coordinator.

At the start of Thursday’s APA monthly meeting, agency Executive Director Terry Martino commended Connolly for his extensive knowledge of the Park, commitment to the agency and sense of humor.

As planning director at the APA, Connolly has been responsible for overseeing state land policy issues and local government services. He’s been a key player in some of the APA’s biggest state land decisions in recent years, including big debates over float plane access to Lows Lake, the fate of the Hurricane and St. Regis mountain fire towers and guidelines for maintaining snowmobile trails in the Park. He leaves the agency amid one of the biggest state land decisions it has faced in years, the classification of the first phase of former Finch, Pruyn and Co. timberlands acquired by the state from The Nature Conservancy.

APA board members individually saluted Connolly at the close of their monthly meeting Friday.

“I have a great appreciation of all the work you’ve shepherded through this board,” said Department of State designee Dede Scozzafava.

Commissioner Art Lussi said Connolly has a “wealth of knowledge” that the agency will miss.

“Those valuable, not nuggets but boulders of experience leave gaps in our staff, and it just makes it that more challenging for the new blood to catch up and gain experience,” Lussi said.

Connolly is one of several longtime APA staff members who’ve retired in recent years, including former agency legal counsel John Banta, who left in 2012, and five others who retired in 2010 with a combined 120 years of APA experience. The APA board has also lost several senior board members in the last few years, including Cecil Wray, Frank Mezzano and James Townsend, who subsequently returned to the agency in January to take Banta’s former position.

Contact Chris Knight at 518-891-2600 ext. 24 or