2037 B: A Usable Park
The idea is to put PARK back in this place. The Park is not a museum piece or a time capsule. In fact, the economy and the environment beneficially re-enforce each other. People come to this world famous Park because it is such a beautiful place and a place with amenities that support people living and playing in harmony with nature. Even in a bad economy, people will take time off for recreation and people will retire. These two big trends are the engine of the Park economy’s upturn. It is a vibrant, robust place where human energy is harnessed in the form of recreation. The wild parts of the Park have become more wild and the developed places, like the major highway corridors, more developed. Huge improvements in fuel efficiency allow cars to remain cost effective for transport even in such a spread out area. Expanded flights at airports around the edges of the Park have facilitated access by visitors from afar.
The Park’s integrated recreation plan spreads out different types of uses to different areas. From limited mobility golden agers to the multi-tasking next generation of youth, there is something here for everyone. It is still easy for silence seekers to avoid motors, but fewer people are looking for that kind of vacation. There is a very large interconnected snowmobile trail system that most backpackers aren’t even aware of. Hunting, mountain biking and horseback riding areas are well separated from other uses. Some lakes are reserved for canoes and kayaks, while others allow jetskis and water skiing. Uses are separated seasonally as well – bike trails double as snowmobile trails or x-country ski trails. Overused areas are protected by online permitting systems (with fees) that allow appropriate numbers of campers, hikers and skiers at any given time.
Indoor attractions, ranging from ice rinks to arts complexes to themed shopping centers and even a casino or two, appeal to visitors who aren’t up for climbing mountains or other hearty athletic activity. The sports culture is a major draw, even for those who just want to watch. Particular attention is paid to both attracting visitors to the deep interior of the Park and development of sporting and cultural events in all seasons.
There is a major increase in visitor-oriented “product” in the Park, i.e. things and services people pay for. Places to eat, sleep, shop. Adirondack-branded recreational equipment, some made here, some not, is a Park industry cluster. Boats and skis are successful. Many entrepreneurs start recreation-related businesses. Like Parks worldwide, people pay user fees to park, camp, hike, fish, etc., which are used for global promotion and event development. Global visitors increase. Canadians love the place. This is a world class destination.
All these investments have made living here more attractive for year-round residents, too. Many visitors and seasonal residents move here to retire. Retiring boomers are active, healthy and often still working part time over the net. They move to their vacation homes in areas with better access to health care, internet, cell phones, arts and other modern amenities. New retirement communities situated near the healthcare centers enable a more elderly population to stay here, among their friends, later in life, instead of fleeing to warmer climates. The active retirees bring money, energy and volunteer time to strengthened non-profits.
Government has managed its downsizing effectively. The relatively small resident population, combined with the number and diversity of opportunities for developing the recreation-based economy, made the Park the perfect model for how to convert from a government dominated economy to a private one. All the other ideas like biomass and local food, although a part of the region, never could make up for the big drop in government employment the region experienced. Using the Park is what saved the day.