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December 10, 2013

Economics factor in land classification

RAY BROOK — Economics will be on the table when Adirondack Park Agency commissioners decide how to classify state land.

The APA’s Environmental Impact Statement of former Finch, Pruyn & Co. land in the Essex Chain Lakes looked for economic indicators from surrounding towns.

ECONOMIC SUSTAINABILITY

Bill Farber, chairman of Hamilton County’s Board of Supervisors, said APA’s critical economic review points to a growing focus on building sustainable communities in the Adirondack Park.

“I really think that, universally, among the environmentalists and the governor, along with the state agencies, everybody is starting to coalesce around the idea that, in order for the Adirondack Park to be truly successful, we need to establish sustainable communities — towns both rich in natural resources and rich in the amenities that travelers are looking for.”

SOARING JOBLESS RATE

APA’s review of Essex Chain Lakes economic presents some jarring data.

In Essex County, for example, winter unemployment in February 2006 stood at 7.6 percent. By 2012, February unemployment in Essex County was a staggering 11.9 percent.

RECREATION HUB

The Essex Chain land-use plan looks to connect communities by optimizing recreation options. There is room for a snowmobile trail for winter use and bike trails in summer.

“Indian Lake, Long Lake, Minerva, Newcomb and North Hudson are also highly dependent upon tourism for their tax base,” the Impact Statement says.

“These five towns have resolved to work together as the Upper Hudson Recreation Hub to help realize the economic potential.”

POPULATION DROP

APA research showed population in the five-town hub decreased 8.2 percent between 2000 and 2010, compared to a 1.3 percent population decrease marked throughout the Adirondack Park.

The largest employment in the five-town hub — at 26.5 percent — is found in educational services, health care and social assistance.

In addition, APA cites research that shows tourism drops off during winter.

“Wintertime visitation ... is an important economic driver in the Adirondacks because it represents a major source of ‘off-season’ income to businesses that may otherwise close during the winter season,” the report says.

“Overall, 15 percent of North Country visitor expenditures occur in the period of January to April.

“In Hamilton County, 9 percent of visitor expenditures occurred during that period; in Essex County, 20 percent occurred during that period.”

Email Kim Smith Dedam:kdedam@pressrepublican.com

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