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GUEST COMMENTARY: Response to Lake Placid critique

August 11, 2017
By MICHAEL "TWIG" McGLYNN , Lake Placid News

Mr. Brian Barrett's Guest Commentary of July 27 in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise may have outlined some valid points for future discussion concerning the event itself. The reason for my note is to address the second and more important matter that Mr. Barrett links to as he pivoted in his commentary to the lack of affordable housing in the community.

Mr. Barrett attempts to support his dislike of the Ironman event with seven sentences midway in his opinion piece, linking the lack of affordable housing in our community to this singular Ironman event and other large "gimmick events." Who gets to define which events are "gimmick events" or not?

Horse shows, rugby, lacrosse, ice hockey tournaments - are these all "gimmick events?" Were the 1980 Winter Olympic games a large gimmick event?

This area runs on events. What is your replacement economic engine, Mr. Barrett?

One of the real reasons why there is a lack of affordable housing is because the community (and its elected leaders) have not addressed and worked on affordable housing for the last 30 years - the first growth spurt in Lake Placid was in the early '80s, the second in the late '80s. This is when the MIT graduate student planning study done for the village and the town through STEPPS identified the projected future need for affordable housing. Never followed up. For 30 years now.

The main season for J1 student workers is the summer, and there is even some use of J1 staff by Centerplate and the Olympic Regional Development Authority in the winter at Whiteface. Every large resort town utilizes this resource nationwide. The main reason for J1 students to come to Lake Placid, winter or summer, is to experience the United States, improve their English and travel the USA. There is a worker shortage for seasonal peak times.

Getting back to the headline reason for Mr. Barrett's note: Move the Ironman event. The Lake Placid Cycling Club organized and hosted the Tour of the Adirondacks Cycling Classic - a five-day stage race in the late 1980s: over 1,200 riders and supporters in the Adirondacks, with daily races from Tupper Lake to Malone to Ticonderoga, Saranac Lake and along Lake Champlain; filled hotel rooms in the slow, shoulder time in mid-June; national TV coverage. We were asked to move out of Lake Placid by a few nay-sayers who did not like the impact of the Sunday morning criterium stage that looped around the Lake Placid High School and Main Street. To me it was a fantastic display of cycling athleticism - in fact, many of the young riders went on to compete in the Tour de France. Again - who decides which events are worthy?

Next steps: Call a "town hall" meeting/workshop in October-November-fall 2017 to begin a community planning process and ongoing mechanism to develop affordable housing for locals. Bring everyone to the table. Research what Aspen, Telluride, Block Island and other similar tourist and event-based communities have done to build a better community.

This problem has been here for 30 years - it is not going away. We cannot ignore the facts. No rush - let's do it right and begin an exploration. Might take 30 more years.

(Michael "Twig" McGlynn lives in Lake Placid.)



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