Suit is damaging and wasteful

To the editor:

Public discussions of the Article 78 lawsuit filed two years ago by Protect the Adirondacks, the Sierra Club and the three individual landowners have recently included misrepresentation I feel bound to correct.

Their suit seeks to block the previously approved – by a 10-to-1 vote – development of the Adirondack Club and Resort.

Recent discussions have included unfortunate and inappropriate assertions of regulatory failures, assertions that impugn the integrity of the legally empowered professional stewards of the Adirondack Park.

Let’s examine the record.

The Adirondack Park Agency – the very agency responsible for the regulatory oversight and protection of the Park – conducted an eight-year-long, thorough review of the ACR project, followed by two years of tedious and expensive litigation.

Focusing on the projected community benefits that economic development specialists have scientifically forecasted, developers of the ACR project seek to create more than 300 temporary (construction) and 500 permanent (service and professional sector) private-sector jobs and generate more than $11 million annually in net new tax revenue. The distressed state of both the public and private sector in the Tupper Lake community, and surrounding region, argues strongly for the need to capitalize on the opportunity this revenue represents for community stabilization and rejuvenation.

Adirondack communities are facing shrinking tax bases, significant budget shortfalls and potential school closures.

Our communities continue to suffer from a lack of private-sector job growth and fewer public-sector employment opportunities, factors resulting in a regional unemployment rate higher than the state average.

No official determination has disqualified the ACR project, suggesting it meets the requirements for private land use as outlined in the Adirondack Park Agency Act.

As a lifelong resident of the Tupper Lake community and avid supporter of prudent, well-regulated development to benefit that community while protecting environmental and other values, I believe the APA, the community of Tupper Lake, the governor’s office and the Adirondack Club have played by the rules, and that the Adirondack Club is an environmentally friendly development that offers careful balance.

I further believe that needlessly delaying a project of demonstrable promise and broad public support serves no public or community interest.

The pending Article 78 lawsuit has needlessly cost New York state taxpayers legal fees we can ill afford. And to add insult to injury, the plaintiffs seek to have the New York state taxpayers reimburse them for their legal costs.

A more prudent, sensible and constructive course would be for all parties to work conscientiously and cooperatively within the regulatory framework established to sustain the Adirondack Park’s natural and human ecosystems. Where disagreements arise, people should work together to find solutions that build on common ground.

Let’s avoid destructive public argument and wasteful litigation, and act together for the betterment of this incredible but clearly stressed community.

Jim LaValley

Tupper Lake