Never in its history has the Adirondack Park Agency had to consider a project of this size: A 6,200 acre club and resort many say could be the economic shot in the arm the Tupper Lake area needs. But it's also a project some argue could do serious damage to the Adirondacks and its wildlife. As our Brian Dwyer reports, the park agency will have a final decision Friday.
TUPPER LAKE, N.Y. -- Tupper Lake is the place Clifford LaMere grew up in and it's the place he wants to stay for the rest of his life. He's just not sure he'll be able to.
"I left Tupper Lake in '75 and went into the military. There was 7,000 people. I came back seven years ago and we're down to 3,500. Taxes go up and people leave," said LaMere.
That's why LaMere is telling everyone who will listen that he thinks Tupper Lake needs what is currently being offered. It's a plan called the Adirondack Club and Resort: 6,200 acres of development in the Adirondacks, centered around the Big Tupper Ski Area. The project features several hundred housing units, a complete renovation of the ski area, several campgrounds and much more.
"Tupper Lake has to have something. There's not going to be any manufacturing coming in. Logging is going downhill fast. This is the only viable thing we have in the works," LaMere said.
LaMere is one of hundreds who've tried making their case to this board. The Adirondack Park Agency, a sort of zoning board for the Adirondack Park, will decide Friday whether to allow the project.
The agency met Wednesday to discuss any final issues leading up to the vote. But it'll be a tough task, because there is a loud call from those who want the environment of the Adirondacks and its wildlife to be left alone.
"We need to look at the protection of the natural resources of the park and the wild character of the park. Also, we have to take into consideration the economic needs and sustainability of the community," said Keith McKeever, APA Public Information Officer.
LaMere says he understands the environmental concerns, but it doesn't outweigh his views.
"If this doesn't go through, there's nobody knocking on the door to pick us up. So we have to embrace what we have. We have to all work together. There's got to be compromise," LeMere said.
Now the APA will again be hosting meetings all day Thursday and then again Friday when that very important vote comes up Friday morning. That's when people will learn the future of the land.
The project would be phased out over 15 years.
The developer says hundreds of jobs could be created and Tupper Lake would see nearly $500 million in property sales and other economic benefits.