By Gwendolyn Craig
The Adirondack Park Agency hasn’t released an agenda yet, but it’s slated to meet on July 16 with its four new board members and three re-appointments.
The APA board hasn’t been full in years, but the state Senate approved Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s appointments on June 10.
The new members are:
- Zoe Smith, deputy director of Paul Smith’s College Adirondack Watershed Institute;
- Andrea Hogan, supervisor of the Town of Johnsburg in Warren County;
- Mark Hall, former supervisor of the Town of Fine in St. Lawrence County; and
- Ken Lynch, former counsel to the state Department of Environmental Conservation from Onondaga County in central New York.
Adirondack Explorer reached out to the new members to learn more about their backgrounds and hopes for the board.
In a phone interview, Hogan talked about her “unique lens” she will bring to the APA. Prior to becoming a town supervisor, Hogan ran the local Adirondack Community Outreach Center in Johnsburg for about a decade.
“I’m thrilled and honored to be chosen to serve,” she said about being on the APA board. “I really hope that I can help with some of the understanding of how the decisions made at the park also impact the economics of those living in the park. It’s the kind of lens that I look at these things through.”
Hogan and her husband are from the Schenectady area, but moved to the Adirondacks in the early 2000s. They wanted to save gas money after driving up into the mountains so often, Hogan joked.
Hogan wants to tackle cell service and broadband, while on the APA board. In Johnsburg, Hogan said, there are some areas where highway department staff experience both radio and cellular dead zones. The issue echoes one ongoing in Hamilton County where emergency responders are grappling with a radio dead zone.
“Frankly, that’s not acceptable,” Hogan said. “There is improvement to be made. We can improve without compromising our commitment to the wilderness.”
Hall is now serving as the water superintendent for the town of Fine in St. Lawrence County. In response to an email from Adirondack Explorer, Hall said he was honored to be nominated by the governor.
According to Hall’s biography on the APA’s website, the American Water Works Association awarded him “2019 Project of the Year” for infrastructure improvements totaling $8.4 million.
Besides his water treatment and town supervisor background, Hall has served on the St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency, the Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board and the Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages. For over 10 years he owned and operated Adirondack Tank Services, a business that worked on “removal of fuel storage tanks and oil spill remediation.”
During the Adirondack Explorer’s interview request process, an APA spokesperson asked that questions be directed to the APA rather than speaking to the individuals. Smith and Lynch both submitted statements to the Adirondack Explorer through that process.
Smith currently serves as the deputy director of the Paul Smith’s College Adirondack Watershed Institute and is co-director of the Adirondack Lakes Alliance.
Her natural resource background in the Adirondacks spans more than two decades, including several years as the Adirondack program director for the Wildlife Conservation Society. Smith has worked at a number of local organizations, and founded the Common Ground Alliance Core Team.
In her email response, Smith said she was grateful for the opportunity to serve on the APA board.
“Recreation is a big part of my life and is part of what fuels my passion for conservation,” Smith said. “However I’ve always been sensitive to the needs of our local communities, recognizing that this complex structure of private – public lands is what makes this place unique and is why I love the Adirondacks. I am fascinated with the opportunities and challenges this framework presents. I’ve built my career around protecting this remarkable place and helping to support local leaders to have a voice at the table on decisions about land use and conservation. The Adirondacks are a complicated place and I love to think about how the Adirondacks can both protect our natural resources and support our communities.”
Lynch is a familiar face to state government. He recently retired as the executive deputy commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Conservation. He oversaw a number of natural resource projects, including the partial cleanup of one of the most polluted water bodies in the nation, Onondaga Lake in Syracuse.
Lynch lives outside the Adirondack Park in Onondaga County. He is currently the director of strategic growth initiatives for Ramboll, a consulting firm working in the energy and environment sector.
In his emailed statement, Lynch also said he is looking forward to being on the APA board.
“My … memories of the Adirondacks span the decades I’ve spent with my entire family enjoying the serenity of the Western Adirondack Park camp built by my father and grandfather in 1950,” Lynch wrote.