Local governments want the Adirondack Park to have its own census tracts, as area officials look to maintain newfound political momentum.
The 40-year-old debate about land use and environmental protection has changed substantially since 2009’s release of the Adirondack Park Regional Assessment Project, which found the region’s population was older, less educated and poorer than the state average.
The $120,000 demographic survey attempted to look solely at in-park populations, including in the 31 towns bisected by the park’s boundary, called the blue line.
Local officials now hope federal and state officials will separate those bisected towns into in-park and out-of-park census tracts so the variation between the two can be easily analyzed.
“We’ve been told the state starts preparing for the census around seven years before it would actually happen,” said Fred Monroe, executive director of the Adirondack Local Government Review Board.
Jim Martin, a planner with the Saratoga Springs-based LA Group and lead author of the 2009 study, said recently the state Legislature, which has some input on how the federal count is conducted, is expected to begin drafting legislation to set the lines for the 2020 federal census in 2013.
“APRAP (the study) really impacted the conversation in the Adirondacks,” said Brian Towers, president of the Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages, the organization that commissioned the study.
Local officials are seeking support from state and federal legislators for the creation of the special census tracts.
No legislators have yet to commit to sponsoring the tract-setting legislation.
Area environmentalists have repeatedly asked for local governments to stop politicizing the study.
However, officials said analysts struggled with breaking out much of the information needed for the in-park study, especially information like the number of school-age students that reside in the Adirondacks. They were forced to trace school bus routes to track down the information.
Officials said redrawing the lines would allow the park-specific data set to be continually updated.