ELIZABETHTOWN — The Adirondack Park, says William “Willie” C. Janeway, is a fabric woven together by public and private stewardship.
“Communities and hamlets themselves are gateways,” said the newly hired executive director of the Adirondack Council. “We need that for the park to work. We need places for people to live and school for children to go to.”
He replaces former Executive Director Brian Houseal, who left the position last year.
Janeway said he sees the Adirondack Council’s future in pragmatic light, supportive of local communities, building toward resilience for the future, wrapped as it is in a changing climate.
There are four pillars in the plan going forward, he said.
“The first pillar is ecological integrity, to protect the wild character of the Adirondack Park,” Janeway said in an interview at his Elizabethtown office.
“The second is in building vibrant communities — and blending these first two together, not doing them in parallel steps.”
The third pillar, he said, is to preserve clean water and clean air in addressing and adapting to climate change.
And the fourth looks to monitoring land use in private forest and farmland management.
Janeway drew a Venn diagram showing how, in a theoretical sense, often-conflicted efforts can find balance points in areas where they interconnect.
There, he said, pointing to the intersection, is the “common ground.”
Rather than pose opposition, Janeway said, the way toward building resilient and strong communities is in finding that common ground.
“When people have respect and civility, it leads to arenas for discussion,” Janeway said.
He shared a story about his first day on the job, May 1, that included a lunch meeting with a realtor in Lake Placid.
They discussed boathouse regulations, which have been revised recently by APA and are maintained by several local planning boards, including Lake Placid/North Elba.
In that meeting, Janeway said, he saw how momentum for growth doesn’t necessarily — or arbitrarily — discard wise land-use planning.
And, he said, he also saw how land-use regulation can imply unintended, negative economic impacts.
Janeway believes park-wide land-use regulations work best when “designed and managed on ecosystem principles that include community. The people of the park live a very green lifestyle, by choice.”
That people can and do live in harmony with nature here is a message he says is unique when told from an Adirondack perspective.
He said the key to success in finding common ground is in building partnerships.
“If we work together, it makes it easy,” he said.
THE WHOLE PARK
And in that big-picture view, he said, science-based initiatives need to look at the whole park, including the people who live and work in it.
Janeway says regulation established under the Adirondack Park Agency Act 40 or so years ago has not kept pace with new science and scientific technology that, he believes, could support both growth and environmental protection.
He named broadband access as a key example of important technology for the people here.
A lot of environmental science has happened since 1971 when the APA was formed, he added.
“We would like to see the APA commissioners appointed and given support to follow the science and follow the laws. We also, in terms of strategy, would update a vision of what the Adirondack Park should look like in 2092.”
The Adirondack Council sees promise in a process being designed by APA to transfer development rights.
“We see the transfer of development rights as a progressive planning tool,” Janeway said.
Really, he said, the Adirondack Council’s APA Act reform initiative is centered in an effort to bring land use into the 21st century with a focus on science, specifically as it pertains to forest management and clear-cutting initiatives; water quality as it is affected by stormwater management; and invasive species.
Appointed State Department of Environmental Conservation Region 3 director by former Gov. Eliot Spitzer in 2007, Janeway held that job for six years before joining the Adirondack Council.
So a two-year ethics rule prevents him from engaging in any DEC negotiation process.
Before his DEC job, he was the director of government relations for the New York offices of the Nature Conservancy.
Janeway was the first trails coordinator for the Adirondack Mountain Club and helped establish the summit steward program in the High Peaks.
A graduate of St. Lawrence University, he holds degrees in both environmental science and economics.
He is in the process of buying a home and moving with his family to Keene Valley.
Email Kim Smith Dedam: firstname.lastname@example.org