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Adirondack Common Ground Alliance to hold annual forum Friday

Adirondack Park sign
Pat Bradley
photo of an Adirondack Park sign

The Adirondack Common Ground Alliance will hold its annual forum Friday at Gore Mountain.

About 240 people have registered to attend the meeting, which brings together representatives from diverse groups including environmental, economic, state and municipal, tourism and education.

Formed in 2007, the Common Ground Alliance meets regularly to discuss issues affecting the Park. Alliance Core Team co-facilitator Zoe Smith is Executive Director of the Adirondack Watershed Institute at Paul Smith’s College.

“This is our 17th forum and at the end of all of our forums we create a Blueprint for the Blue Line which is an action plan that we send to our state legislators that allows us to speak with one voice from the region to help them understand what our mutual concerns are and to help us work together with them to get them resolved. And this has been critical in a number of different ways. One is really just sort of the process. So allowing people to come together and to discuss those issues that we all care about and looking for resolutions that we can all agree on and instead of fighting really working together. So it sort of changed the tenor of discussion in the Adirondacks over the last couple of decades. But in addition there have been more tangible outcomes.”

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Adirondack Foundation President and CEO Cali Brooks is a Common Ground Alliance Core Team co-facilitator.

“The Adirondacks are a unique part of New York state. You know the environment, between the people, the small communities, this Adirondack Common Ground Alliance forum and this effort for the last 20 years is pretty unique where we place our differences aside and we come together in the areas that we can agree upon and we try to speak with one voice as a region to Albany. That’s pretty unique.”

Key topics to be discussed during this year’s forum are workforce housing, broadband, climate change and invasive species, some of which have been discussed in the past. Smith notes that many of the issues take time to resolve.

“We’re in it for the long haul. We typically find those issues that people are already invested in. We know there’s been a lot of work. We don’t expect that we’re going to solve all of those problems but what we would like to do is send our collective voice to Albany that really represents the unique challenges and opportunities in our region that we can bring forward and help our legislators and the governor examine when they’re looking at budgets, they’re looking at legislation, they’re looking at management decisions.”

Brooks adds that there has been great progress made on many issues as a result of the Common Ground forums.

“The forum brings different parts of our Park together to learn from one another and to see some solutions happening in one corner of the Adirondacks that could be happening in another corner. So there is good progress happening in the Park and this forum helps build on that.”

The Adirondack Association of Town and Villages represents the elected officials from 102 towns and villages across the Park and is setting up some of the forum’s panel discussions. President Stephen McNally, Supervisor of the Town of Minerva, says local officials deal with the issues on a daily basis.

“We are on the ground. We understand the issues from a daily on the ground basis. We understand the difficulties with housing, broadband, cell phone, emergency services. It goes on and on. We deal with this on a day-to-day basis. You know being a local official in the Adirondack Park is not an easy task. We have other issues too. We have an EMS shortage. It goes on and on and on. But a lot of it is intertwined: housing, a shortage of employees, daycare. We can go on and on. And most of it is tied together. I’m not sure what the answer is but I think we’re moving forward just not as quickly as we hoped.”

The Common Ground Alliance Annual Forum will be held Friday at Gore Mountain in North Creek, New York.