Public Comment from Chip Moeser, Lake Placid
Submitting as public comment on the ongoing situation in Lake Placid.
1) It was discussed recently in the candidates forum, that the decision to host the 2021 Iron Man was made by ROOST without full town board approval. No one tried to argue otherwise.
How is this acceptable to residents? This is exactly the kind of decision an elected town board exists for. An end run around was done. Why are there no repercussions or accountability? What measures are in place to stop ROOST from making similar moves in the future? Where are the checks and balances? And it seems like they are being rewarded for moves like this by being allowed to map out the future of our municipality? ROOST is a tourism marketing agency, not our elected officials.
2) Why are surveys on whether the Town should host large events coming from a marketing agency focused on tourism and not from the town directly to its full time residents?
Easy answer is the Town doesn’t have the resources. Hard answer is divert resources from ROOST and towards local government to build a strong and balanced locality. There are how many dedicated to people not living here and who dedicated to and speaking for residents?
3) The Destination Marketing Plan. If everything in your plan hinges on getting more tourists to come here and spend more money, are you really addressing the problem of over tourism? or exacerbating it? ROOST is trying to sell locals the idea over tourism can only be solved by more tourism? really? This is exactly the kind of solution that happens when you try to solve a problem from within that problem or when the industry that created a problem, tries to fix it with the exact same tools they used to create it.
I attended one of the town halls held by ROOST and I absolutely do see the value in the outside consultants and many of the ideas & planning they are capable of bringing to the table. The plan though, is flawed in its nature. This plan should be driven by local officials & residents, 3rd parties should be involved and ROOST should simply have a seat at the table, not be providing the table and sitting at the head.
4) A balanced approach? Has ROOST ever taken the steps to define how much tourism is enough? For example, X large scale events is enough for 1 year? or if a facility gets X number of visitors in a year that’s enough? XX% Hotel capacity over a given period is enough? or does the concept of “enough” not exist in destination marketing?
ROOST is trying to sell more, more, more as a “balanced” approach. A truly “balanced” approach would clearly define how much tourism is too little, how much is needed with room for growth, how much is too much, and create a “balance” from there.
5) Why is the vision for the future of a municipality being driven by a marketing agency with an obvious bias and not from local elected officials? and do we honestly expect anything other than more over tourism?
I vote in local elections with the expectation that the vision for the future of the place I am living in will be executed by the people I and other residents elect, even if they take input & direction from outside parties. Here it seems as if they just hand off their responsibilities. Local officials letting a tourism marketing agency handle the towns business sends a clear message to those here not directly involved in tourism. You don’t matter here, tourism does.
An truly balanced solution to all of this would be for elected officials to treat the ROOST destination marketing plan as a best suggestion, bring in a consultant from outside the tourism industry to address the issues created by over tourism, manage feedback from locals and create a future for Lake Placid based on all of these inputs.
I’m not saying ROOST needs to go away, they are without question an essential part of our economy. I’m not speaking against tourism in Lake Placid, I’m asking for balance and currently it is anything but. It is an all tourism first approach. I fail to see how this will ever create a balance between people who live here and those who don’t, especially as fewer and fewer people can live here. Please take a piece of the pie and dedicate it to people who live here. I do understand this and none of the fixes I am suggesting come easy. The most frustrating part of living here is, there simply is no balance and no honest effort towards it from our local officials.
I’m posting this public commentary here and not in the ROOST forum because I think these are things locals need to consider independently of the current ROOST driven Destination Plan.
Thanks for listening & be well,