Who is paying for preservationists’ appeal? You are
In 2010, in a letter to the editor, we wrote that what is noteworthy about the behavior of the preservation lobbyists is their callous disregard of the welfare and wishes of the residents of the region and of the Adirondack Park Agency Act. We pointed out that they entirely ignore the rights and needs of the permanent residents of the Park, despite the fact that the act expressly states that the Park Land Development Plan was designed to recognize three complementary needs, including the need of the “Park’s permanent, seasonal and transient populations for growth and service areas, employment, and a strong economic base.”
The preservationists now have surpassed themselves. The Adirondack Club and Resort received the 10-to-1 approval of the Adirondack Park Agency board after more than seven years of fine-tuning with the APA staff, including a 19-day adjudicatory hearing that generated a 4,486-page transcript and a 22,000-page record. Despite that, and despite the facts that (1) approximately 86 percent of our 6,235 acres is designated as open space, (2) our land is privately owned and directly abuts 300,000+/- acres of undeveloped private and public land, and (3) the community wants and desperately needs employment opportunities, the preservationists filed a lawsuit they expect to lose in the apparent hope that they can stop the Adirondack Club and thus prevent the creation of hundreds of jobs for permanent residents of the Park.
The preservationists are not pro-environment. They are anti-people. Yet every falsehood, half-truth and misrepresentation they utter is paid for with tax-deductible donations and grants from tax-exempt foundations. Every schoolteacher and other worker in the Adirondack region whose job is at risk is paying higher taxes so the preservationists can raise money to end their employment. Every parent who wants a better education for his or her child is paying higher taxes to provide financing for organizations that want to close their children’s schools. The taxpayers are being forced to make an involuntary contribution to organizations whose primary, perhaps sole, purpose is to force them out of their jobs and homes.
We ask your readers to think about the costs and consequences of the litigation to them, as taxpayers, businesspeople, parents and homeowners. We cannot list all of the consequences in this letter because each action the preservationists take and each statement they make, no matter how big or seemingly small, how overtly malevolent or seemingly benign, creates ripples that intersect and interact in countless and sometimes unexpected ways. We are sure the donors to preservationist groups and the legislators who help those groups raise money by making donations to these extremists tax-deductible do not intend to deprive children of any of the services they require at the schools that no longer can afford to provide them. But they are.
A partial list follows indicating direct and indirect consequences to a few sectors of government and the community. We hope your readers will write to you to supplement our thoughts and recite the consequences of the delay to them and their families.
-Attorney General’s defense of the APA (three lawyers and their staffs, supplies and facilities)
-APA staff time (technical, administrative and legal) diverted from actually protecting the environment and helping applicants
-Judicial system (unnecessarily burdening already overburdened judges, staff, court facilities)
-Lost sales tax revenue
-Lost income and payroll taxes (from local businesses, their employees and their suppliers)
-Higher unemployment throughout the region
-Lost property taxes (The entire tax base is lower than it would have been.)
-Lower sales tax revenue (people who are out of work or whose salaries are depressed spend less and tourists who don’t come because there is no place to eat or sleep don’t spend at all)
-Lower business tax proceeds (Businesses need customers.)
-Fewer volunteers for essential services
-Inability to maintain roads and other infrastructure and to provide services
-Less tax revenue
-More school closings
-Fewer extracurricular services and activities
-More busing, longer rides
-Fewer and fewer vital programs
-Higher tax rates because donations to Protect are deductible, as are donations to the foundation that funds the Sierra Club’s $98 million annual budget
-Property and other taxes will be higher than they would have been.
-Services will be reduced because government will have less to spend.
-Land values will be depressed.
-New projects will not be attempted.
-Home values and tourism will decrease because most people, including technology enabled telecommuters, will not come or stay long, let alone buy homes, in areas without infrastructure (shopping, dining, etc.).
-New businesses will not come because they will not be able to keep or attract executives.
-Existing business will close because they will lose existing customers.
-The downward spiral will continue.
Adding insult to injury, the preservationists are asking the court to order the state to reimburse them for the cost of the appeal they chose to file.
Who is paying for the appeal that is doing so much harm to you and your community? You are.
Michael D. Foxman lives in Elverson, Pa., is head of Preserve Associates LLC and is the lead developer of the Adirondack Club and Resort in Tupper Lake. Thomas C. Lawson, a partner in the development, lives in Tupper Lake.