Category Archives: Local Food

Project Update – Are We Getting the Desired Future Or?

You know this pattern:  Lots of people spend tons of time and money developing a plan.  It finishes with a fanfare, then as times passed it is spoken about less frequently.  Eventually people forget about the plan.  Then work begins on a new plan, because, well, we don’t have one. So, with this post we are trying to add something different to the ADK Futures Project, a review of how we are doing vs the 2011-12 vision – remember the vision?

In 2011-12, the ADK Futures Project ran a series of scenario planning workshops.  The desired future was called the Sustainable Life, mixed with tourism and supported by the Forest Preserve.  This also turned out to be most attainable among the scenarios, largely because much of it was already underway.  The broad alignment supporting the vision was what surprised people.  Now it is February 2016.  What has happened since July 2012?  How does it compare to the desired vision?

We have been collecting data, news items, press releases, reports and such since July 2013 and now have roughly 1000 items. We associate each item to its related event(s).  Over time one begins to see trends suggesting what is getting done, and what is not. Some events have lots of news, on other events nothing has happened, and some are clearly never going to happen.

The short conclusion is, wow, we sure are making a lot of progress on a broad range of fronts. Historic expansions of the Forest Preserve have been made.  Realignment of the health care system has been done.  Building out broadband and cell service is ongoing, making progress each day.  The renewal of Champlain Valley farming is gaining momentum.  The State and private sector have invested a lot of new money in recreation and tourism facilities.  And on and on.  It is very impressive, especially given the fact that no one is organizing, coordinating, or leading all this work.   It is happening, it seems, with the willing collaboration and distributed effort of many people to get where they collectively want to go.  Maybe this is democracy in action in the most positive sense of the word.   It is actually quite incredible.

There is too much information for a post.  We have written an update that organizes recent developments by theme.  For example, Agriculture, Recreation, Energy, Transportation, Arts and Heritage, Healthcare, and more, are each separate topics, where news related to the events used in the 2011-12 workshops has been aggregated and written as a short narrative.

The update is based on data collected, organized and posted here.  You can check on the data, follow the links and find out more about the progress we have made. We try to keep ‘evidence’ to things that actually happen; not ongoing debates but how the debates conclude.  We try to keep it complete.  A grant is made.  A project is started, finished or abandoned.  The APA makes a decision.  Voters pass something.  You get the idea.  Even with this approach, we already have about 1000 items of evidence.   Let us know via email of missing data, including a link to the evidence we should cite.  Thanks!

Click here for the PDF file of the update document.



What is happening with economic issues?

Like all things economic, there are two views to express:  there is good news and bad news.   (Note: this doesn’t cover tourism and recreation where a lot is going on and will be covered in a separate post.)

First the good news

The idea of an ADK Venture Fund has been the subject of volunteer effort and an excellent and a large experienced advisory group.  This group raised the money to hire two people.  Reviews during the summer will get to a go/no go decision.  If we can do this w/o State funds in the first round, and prove it will work, then a second round might involve State development monies.  To be clear, the goal of the current effort is to prove that money making private sector ventures can be built here.

The Adirondack Partnership is working with two grants aimed at finding and assisting specific projects.  This is the follow-on work to ADK Futures.  Project principals are encouraged to engage with this effort now by using this survey:  Fill in what you can and ask for the help you need.

The construction of broadband is continuing all over the Park.  There is a new project in Indian Lake called Adirondack Teleworks that is hoping to get the teleworker job model going there.

There is movement on the energy front.  There are several schools on biomass boilers now and other bio-thermal projects are being built in Old Forge, Blue Mtn Lake, and 4 in the Albany area.  The pellet plant in Malone is being up graded for energy efficiency.  In other energy news, a bill (S. 4722) has been introduced in the NYS Senate to allow community net metering, similar to the law in Massachusetts.  This will allow people with homes in the forest (most of us) to buy solar panels that are grouped nearby with panels owned by others.

Global Foundry’s chip fab in Malta (Saratoga) is up and running with 2000 people.  Another $2.3 billion is being spent on an expansion.  There is rumor of another company building a chip fab in the region but no specifics have been released.

Bombardier in Plattsburgh makes subway cars and they have won large multi-year contracts with New York City, Chicago and San Francisco resulting in an expansion.  Nova Bus in Plattsburgh won a contract for 300 buses for the Chicago Transit Authority.

The Town of North Elba and the Village of Saranac Lake won a $463,000 grant to develop a comprehensive plan to revitalize the two areas.  The idea of joint planning looks good to us.

Lake George has a big ($545,000) “gateway” project to improve walk-ability, safety and water quality.  Lake George is also working on a revitalization plan, but with a budget of only $38,000.  Lake George is also considering zoning changes to allow a rebuilding and upgrade of the core village up to 4-6 stories.

Now the bad news

The last gas station (a Wilson Farms shop) in Wilmington is closing soon.  There might be a buyer hiding somewhere, but they have not surfaced.  Drivers will have to go to LP or Jay for gas.

There are reports that the remaining food store in Long Lake now plans to close off-season.  That leaves a Stewarts open in winter, but no other market.

The branch bank in Newcomb is closing.  People will need to go to Long Lake where there is another bank branch.

Federal workers at the Ray Brook prison are being laid off due to the sequester.

Protect’s lawsuit has stopped work on the the resort project and related renovations in Tupper Lake.  It appears the suit is about the permit process, suggesting the actual project is legal from a zoning perspective under the law since that was not challenged.  Now that it is in the legal process, there are no clues about when or what the next steps might be and there is no public involvement.  Even if it moves ahead legally at some point, like any business, it isn’t a sure-fire bet that it will be successful.