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Common Ground Alliance creates action lists

Tuesday, July 29, 2014 - Updated: 8:28 AM


Express Summer Intern

LONG LAKE -- Almost 170 people active in policy gathered at the Long Lake Pavilion July 16 for the Common Ground Alliance of the Adirondacks’ annual problem-solving forum, to understand and steward the most pressing challenges of North Country, from energizing tourism to mitigating the spread of invasive species.

Attendees started by breaking into 14 groups, according to their interests and talents: promoting hamlet life; recreation destination planning; thwarting invasive species; Adirondack response to climate change; scaling up the local food sector; creating a regional identity; financial innovations for small business; waste water, storm water, and drinking water infrastructure; enhanced stability of agriculture and forest industries; transportation infrastructure improvements; renewable energy; making small schools affordable and good; Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan update; and moving to landscape scale planning and arts, culture, and heritage as drivers of park revitalization.

The outdoor event was back-dropped by a quintessential Adirondack picture of lakes and sloping hills, under a partly sunny 70-degree sky and the periodic drone of Long Lake's recreational airplanes.

After a 90-minute brainstorming session, each workgroup gave a five-minute summary of its findings and recommendations.

The overarching recommendation was procuring state grants for myriad Adirondack challenges, as well to raise its profile abroad. However, each work group also developed a unique agenda.


Dan Kelleher, who represented 'promoting hamlet life,' discussed the team's three biggest priorities. "Working on our planning documents and regulations, including local zoning, to accommodate the type of development we want to see in our communities; waste water and water infrastructure development; and local capacity building," he said.

The recreation destination planning squad put organizing a network of human capacity around the park to bring more services to communities on its ask list, in addition to more lodging amenities and diversifying recreation opportunities. Heritage tourism, food trails, and agricultural trails were cited as possibilities to diversify.


John Mills represented the 'Adirondack response to climate change' group, and he spoke of "energy policy, infrastructure, and community education," as the team's area of focus. "Go for the big ring on the merry-go-round, get a dedicated fund in New York state that will apply to infrastructure changes in communities," he said.

The 'making small schools affordable and good' group bemoaned the defunding of schools in North Country, and advocated a united message on the value of an Adirondack education.


Lauren Richard of the 'scaling up the local food sector' squad backed helping local farmers buy land, online food markets, and grant projects scaled down to local farms' size.

"We all have to realize that it's not going to disappear, we are living with it and we have to sustain our effort," Nick Mann of the 'thwarting invasive species' group said, accurately summing up the animated sentiment of all of the conference attendees in the face of the Adirondacks' woes.


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