$13 million in awards helps ‘Crossroads of the Adirondacks’
By James M. Odato
If economic developers in Tupper Lake reach their goals, the former Oval Wood Dish factory will smell like a brewery before long.
Bikers will be able to cycle off the rail trail and glide into downtown. And boaters will tie up at new docks at a municipal park a block from restaurants and old buildings with 21st century facades.
“It’s going to be great,” said Mayor Paul Maroun. The village got a package of public grants exceeding $13 million to help realize the dreams of a major facelift to the western Adirondack village.
Among the biggest winners are the developers of the former Oval Wood Dish complex, a shuttered factory on the northern edge of what Maroun refers to as the uptown district that is being targeted for rehabilitation.
Oval Wood operators plan to build a mix of housing, training and commercial space and received a $2.5 million state grant to help in what may be more than $30 million in investment.
Joseph Gehm, leader of the development team for the factory, said the project is on course although he is eager to strike a deal with the state on tax credits toward the housing component. About a third of the project is commercial, and the first business commitment to the space has come from the nearby Raquette River Brewery.
Although the arrangement isn’t final, brewery co-owner Mark Jessie said the idea is for his Tupper Lake brewpub and brewery to expand into 22,000 square feet of space at Oval Wood. That will allow for substantial growth in production and another five jobs.
Already, he’s sent three brewers to Schenectady County Community College to train. “We haven’t funded this project, we’re hesitant to say yes we’re doing it,” Jessie said.
The village estimates the expansion at $1 million and Maroun said it could result in the new space being used for a visitor tour and tasting room.
Gehm, of Lahinch Group, hopes to begin work on 90 apartments at the factory by mid-2022 and the construction may be completed by the end of 2023.
The Lahinch project also received $500,000 in a Northern Border Regional Commission grant for infrastructure upgrades at the former factory site.
The village won another $348,000 for waterfront redevelopment for new docks and fixes to its ballpark and stadium.
In December, Gov. Kathy Hochul’s administration announced $10 million under the Downtown Revitalization Initiative for projects that the village will be advancing to Albany for approval.
They will include work to support the Oval Wood venture and to bolster village aesthetics. Plans call for façade improvements, a new marquee for the State Theater and a wall to replace the windows on the arts center.
Other projects would add bicycle lanes, pedestrian lighting, street trees, benches, crosswalks and other amenities in the Demars Boulevard (Route 3) and Waterfront Park pedestrian area. A street redesign is also imagined in what the locals bill as a village that has become a regional destination, the “Crossroads of the Adirondacks.”
Although Tupper Lake presents some empty storefronts, it has benefitted already from more than $16 million in private investments and nearly $50 million in public sector investments around downtown since 2014, officials said in their presentation to the state.
The 2006 creation of The Wild Center, a museum and outdoor attraction built with public and private funds, served as a “catalyst” for revitalization, the village officials said.
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Great to see this happening in Tupper Lake!!
Charles zawisza says
I enjoy it up there. But we need the other side of the story. For those that don’t know, visit the website US debt clock, then select the link for individual states. Ny state has the second highest state debt in the country, way over 300 billion. The site breaks down the federal debt, never talked about in D.C. the Albany administration giving grants, trying to develop new programs, trying to fund existing programs we could never have afforded, the credit card that is never paid down or off, mum on this topic, high taxed folks leaving the state. Florida has 2.5 million population, it’s state budget is half of NY states.
Daniel Bogdan says
Doubtful if any biker would simply glide into downtown Tupper Lake from the rail trail. Any biker would have to overcome at least a 75 ft. uphill elevation change over the approximate 1.5 miles from the end of the trail to downtown Tupper. Better yet glide from downtown Tupper to the rail station and take the train.
Joan Grabe says
I have had a house here in Florida since 1984 and since 2005 I have been a legal resident snow bird. We have half the budget of NYState but substandard public schools, less Medicaid, less labor union activity, less wages, less government services plus looming climate change effects from rising sea levels. And not one, not one Adirondack resident would tolerate the toxic sump in the middle of the state, Lake Okechobee, for one second ! Discharges from the lake have ruined the estuaries of Port Ste. Lucie on the east and the Caloosahatchie River in Ft. Myers on the west. All thanks to efforts by the Army Corps of Engineers in concert with Big Sugar, Big Agriculture and Ranching, land developers and complacent and corrupt politicians. Let NYS throw a few million dollars at Tupper Lake. Maybe fixing up that derelict hulk on Rt. 3 which has been an eyesore for years and has offended me since I first saw in 1994 will provide a lift that Foxman and the scam ACR could never have provided to that town.
Sylvia Majka says
I can confirm all of these observations. Anyone who thinks FL operating with a state budget 1/2 that of NY, while having a larger population, is admirable in any way, is free to come on down–try July, August and September for a start. Low wages, little union protection, proportionally high rents to income. The state is turning into an asphalt peninsula. And the mentality of development at any cost is ruining whatever is left.
I have mixed feelings about the statewide Regional Economic Development initiative that are compounded for communities like Tupper Lake, being deep behind the Blue Line. On the one hand, New York is trying to learn from the mistakes of the past (first the NYS Urban Development Corporation botched “urban renewal”, and then the Empire State Development Corporation become synonymous with misappropriation of funds and cronyism with the “Buffalo Billion”). They got one thing right by placing an ideological emphasis on “Smart Growth” principles for the Downtown Revitalization Initiatives. And on the face of it, the “bottom-up approach” to regional development sounds like a good idea. However, there seems to a worrying lack of scrutiny and due dilligence in New York State when it comes to diving headfirst into massive spending projects. Doesn’t too much of even the most well-intentioned “Smart Growth” initiative eventually lead to the very same pitfall of gentrification so common in conventional “urban renewal” projects? Can regional planning really succeed when it is decentralized and balkanized? Can government subsidies ever escape cronyism? And, the most basic question of all: Isn’t the jury still out on the compatibility of subsidies and sustainable economic growth; economic planning and the ideals of capitalism? Two contradictory forces will either annihilate each other or lead to a runaway feedback loop (in the Batesonian sense). Margaret Mead once gave the example of taxing gas, using the tax to build roads, and then people needing to buy more gas; the cycle continues until the society exhausts all resources. New York seems to be stuck in such a cycle: subsidize, tax, need more subsidies, subsidize again. The towns and hamlets of the Adirondacks are inextricably and acutely trapped in such a cycle. But we have the added burdens of environmental regulations; the tourism that such an environs attracts; the gentrification, speculation, community erosion and environmental degradation wrought by the “Dutch disease” and “import replacement” of a tourism-dependent economy; the unpredictability introduced by politicization; and the instability introduced by subsidization. The Regional Economic Development funding seems to be geared towards rewarding projects that bring in money to the coffers. But we should really be asking only one question: What will be the long-term effects for the everyday resident? A hard question to answer, but one that deserves a lot of thought.
Soon there will just be crowds everywhere in the Adirondack’s with pollution, garbage and noise already an issue. The amount of “tourists” and littering plastic bottles everywhere, blasting down roads at crazy speeds, buzzing bicycles. we needs jobs of quality in Adirondacks for sure, but the masses of disrespectful tourists think of the car window as garbage cans. stupid loud exhausts, excessive speeds. The degradation is not worth it, we need speeding cameras and cops way more than more tourists.
we launch canoes and go down rivers and find bottles and garbage everywhere, it’s disgusting and a disgrace. illegal campsites trashed up.