A recent exchange of letters to the Adirondack Daily Enterprise in Saranac Lake exposes the current states of mind on two sides of the debate over Adirondack land use.
The first, published Nov. 8, was from Jim LaValley,
chairman of a Tupper Lake group advocating for Adirondack Park Agency approval of a large development, the Adirondack Club and Resort.
The second was from John Sheehan, spokesman for the Adirondack Council, an environmental advocacy group.
The APA is now considering the resort's permit application. If it grants the permit, organizations like the Council could delay the project by filing an appeal.
LaValley says an appeal will cost state taxpayers money, that the project has already been delayed by years in an extended review process and that a delay will lead to local municipalities losing tax revenue.
He characterizes the "preservationist groups" as "turning their backs" on the Adirondack people.
Sheehan's letter says LaValley is a bully who demonizes anyone with questions about the project, that he is making "irresponsible and baseless accusations." He urges Tupper Lakers not to let LaValley's "acid tongue and bluster" ruin their view of their own community.
Whether you support this development or not, what Mr. LaValley says is true - an appeal of an APA approval will delay the project further.
Since Mr. Sheehan says the Council "will not be intimidated," it seems at least possible the Council will file an appeal. Any delay an appeal causes will be to the Council's credit or blame, depending on your point of view.
Surely, Mr. Sheehan wouldn't shrink from taking responsibility for a delay, if it is caused by his group's appeal. Why, then, the lashing retort, why the attack against Mr. LaValley?
As rhetoric goes, Mr. LaValley's is mild. And yet, you'd think he suggested the Council eats Adirondack babies, from Mr. Sheehan's response.
Here is how Mr. LaValley finishes his letter: "Given the fragile condition of our economy, are you, the taxpayer, willing to pay for the appeals that are filed by the preservationist groups?"
Here is how Mr. Sheehan finishes: "There are a lot of nice people who live in Tupper Lake. They just don't write letters like that - to anyone."
Maybe Mr. Sheehan spilled coffee in his lap that morning. Or maybe he feels that the Adirondack Council, used to having its way at the APA, is being pushed to the fringe, and it's making him shrill.
Will Doolittle is projects editor at The Post-Star. He may be reached at email@example.com and followed on Twitter at @trafficstatic.