ARISE and ADK Works still have life

TUPPER LAKE – The groups Adirondack Residents Intent on Saving their Economy and ADK Works might still have a role in Tupper Lake, even as the Adirondack Club and Resort project begins moving forward.

Last Thursday, five justices with the Appelate Division of the state Supreme Court announced their unanimous ruling in favor of the state Adirondack Park Agency’s 2012 decision to green-light the ACR project, much to the chagrin of the appellants: Protect the Adirondacks, the Sierra Club and three local landowners.

ARISE was at the front of a volunteer effort that began in the fall of 2009 to keep the Big Tupper Ski Area open while the ACR’s fate was in limbo. ACR developers said they would include revitalizing the mountain in their plans, but those plans were put on hold pending state approval and the outcome of the suit.

ARISE Chairman Jim LaValley said ARISE will probably run the ski center next winter, but he expects the ACR to take it over soon.

ADK Works is a media-blitz campaign launched with the help of the Northern Adirondack Board of Realtors, which then got the New York State Association of Realtors involved. Its mission was to keep the Adirondack Club and Resort in the spotlight while both sides awaited the court’s decision.

The campaign was announced at a public gathering in October at the former Ginsberg’s Department Store on Park Street, a building owned and partly renovated by Tom and Sue Lawson, who are among the ACR developers.

About 100 people attended.

LaValley said he thinks both entities still have a purpose in Tupper Lake, especially ARISE.

“I think the ADK Works and the ARISE effort really are on a parallel path,” LaValley said. “The mission statement of ARISE is sound, sustainable economic development within the community, and we will continue.”

LaValley said several individuals have been working diligently to establish a business loan fund, which would help start-ups and businesses looking to relocate to the area get ahead by offering them bridge loans. Those loans would provide money to business owners who are waiting to receive approved state grant money. The grant money could then be used to reimburse ARISE.

“We saw in the past, when there were Main Street grants available, businesses jumped on, but the struggle is, businesses that qualify basically have to wait for their money,” LaValley said. “It can be a few months, but they really want to get started as soon as possible. We’ve seen a two- to four-month lag in receiving the funds.”

There are two funding sources for the loans. LaValley said private individuals who are not affiliated with the ACR have expressed interest in developing the fund. He said revenue from the Big Tupper Ski Area could also go toward the fund.

LaValley isn’t sure how ADK Works would play out, but he thinks it could still have a presence on a regional scale. He said its slogan, “The Adirondacks work when people do,” is in line with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s NY Works initiative, and could promote Adirondack development and tourism.

“ADK Works got tremendous attention across the state because the New York State Association of Realtors was behind the effort,” LaValley said. “We have a lot of members in the real estate community in western New York that have been keeping up on it, and they’re very interested in how the effort is drawing attention to the Adirondacks.”

NYSAR CEO Duncan MacKenzie told the Enterprise he thought ADK Works had served its purpose, but he said LaValley has a better perspective on the Adirondacks than he does, so he would support a continuation of the campaign.

MacKenzie said NYSAR got behind the campaign to fight for the rights of property owners in the Adirondacks.

“Part of the role of the realtor is to be an advocate for private property rights,” MacKenzie said. “We kind of saw what was happening up in Tupper Lake as part of a larger issue where economic development needs to coexist with the environmental concerns.

“I think our assumption was that you have a very thorough review process through the APA,” MacKenzie said. “They certainly are not a pushover when it comes to approving projects like this. Our concern is that you go through the process, you meet all of their concerns, and you finally get the green light to go forward, and then you get an alternate point of view that comes in at the last minute that tries to put a kibosh on the whole project.”

MacKenzie said ADK Works is the first campaign of its kind NYSAR got involved with. So far, there is nothing like it on the horizon for the agency.