TUPPER LAKE — A public opinion poll found regional unemployment levels chief among Adirondack Park economic concerns.
Conducted for the ADK Works Campaign, a nonprofit effort supporting regional business growth, the recently released results showed job creation, unemployment and economic stimulus rank individually as key issues.
Questions were posed to 300 residents in Essex and Franklin counties last September by Diversified Research Inc., based in Albany.
The survey also included some very specific questions on the proposed Adirondack Club and Resort project in Tupper Lake.
At Diversified Research, Public Affairs Supervisor Saleem Cheeks said questions were posed to those who voted in one of the last two general elections or who are newly registered since 2010.
The questions focused on economic drivers.
Nearly 32 percent of respondents said unemployment and jobs are the biggest issues their community face. Individual answers crossed a wide range of concerns, among them water quality, welfare, higher wages, housing, global warming, terrorism, gun control and health care.
The second largest group, at 11.7 percent of the total, said taxes are too high. And 7.3 percent said the economy is the biggest concern.
Development of the Adirondack Club and Resort was the fourth biggest concern at 4.7 percent.
And 11 percent said they “don’t know.”
Pursuing public views of the Club and Resort development, the survey first asked whether respondents knew key players involved in ongoing public discussions.
The survey asked if respondents knew or had heard of Jim LaValley, who helped coordinate ADK Works outreach; or Tom Lawson, one of the Club and Resort project’s financiers. Questions tallied whether people surveyed were familiar with the Sierra Club, a national environmental group that has sued to stop the project; or Protect the Adirondacks, an Adirondack Park-based environmental group involved in litigation.
The survey showed 44.3 percent of respondents had a favorable opinion of Protect, with a similar number — 43.7 percent — holding a favorable opinion of the Sierra Club.
Some 37 percent of respondents had never heard of LaValley, and Lawson’s name was not familiar to 42 percent.
With that baseline, some 61 percent of those surveyed support the Club and Resort project planned in Tupper.
Another 15 percent expressed opposition to the project, and 17 percent were “undecided.” Seven percent of those polled had either not heard of the Club and Resort or chose not to answer.
The primary reason given for supporting the development was “job creation,” an answer closely followed by “economy boost.”
Of those who oppose the project, 20 percent said it was because the development is “too big,” while 11.1 percent said they think it will “ruin aesthetic beauty” in the region.
About 6.7 percent opposed the project because they believe “no one will buy land” involved in the development.
Other sections of the poll sought details of what people know about planned Club and Resort development.
When asked if they knew that local tax revenue would increase $11 million annually once it is built, 60.3 percent of people surveyed said they would be “more likely” to support it.
The Club and Resort would create 500 jobs when completed, the questionnaire indicated, and in response to that information, 72.7 percent said they would be “more likely” to support it.
The survey also assessed comments made repeatedly in public about planned Club and Resort development in Tupper Lake.
Asked if they believe that “development of the Adirondack Club and Resort will present a substantial threat to the environment,” 45 percent of those polled said they think the statement is true, while 41 percent said it is “not at all” true.
Fully 70.3 percent said the resort would “improve the quality of life for most Adirondack residents.”
In all, the survey encompassed 41 questions, compared and contrasted through 275 pages of data configurations relating to development and marketing economic well-being in the Adirondacks.
Of the 300 questioned, 47 percent were men and 53 percent were women.
LaValley, who coordinates ADK Works with funding support from the New York State Realtors’ Association, launched the public outreach. He has said the Adirondack Park will work when people who live inside its boundaries do.
“With few options available to our communities to tackle a regional unemployment rate that is 10 percent higher than the state average, the public clearly supports responsibly harnessing our communities’ tourism potential to help protect the economic vitality of the Park,” he said in a news release.
“Our survey confirms what many of us already know — that the Park-compatible ACR (Club and Resort) project is the right solution to reverse the trend of economic decline in the Adirondacks.”
DELAYED IN COURT
The 14 permits allowing Club and Resort construction were approved by the Adirondack Park Agency in January 2012 by a 10-to-1 vote.
But the permits and APA’s review were challenged in court by Protect the Adirondacks, working with the Sierra Club and two neighboring landowners.
Attorneys with the State Attorney General’s Office are representing the Adirondack Park Agency. They asked for an extension — until Jan. 16, 2014 — to file briefs.
Peter Bauer, Protect executive director, said earlier this month that they had completed paperwork four months ago.
“This is the second extension the state has requested since then,” he advised in a news release.
“Our reply brief will be due in early February, with oral arguments scheduled, most likely, in May or June.
A decision on the lawsuit would likely come two to four months afterward, pushing the court process through next October.
Bauer could not be reached Friday to ask for his input on the ADK Works survey.
Email Kim Smith Dedam:firstname.lastname@example.org