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Supporting Peter Hornbeck for APA Commissioner

I know not everyone likes politics mixed in with their outdoor adventure, but unfortunately political decisions can have an impact on the activities we participate in and the places we love.

In the Adirondacks, the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) is the agency that performs long-range planning for both private and public lands. By overseeing how the land in the Adirondacks can be used, they are, in essence, responsible for the park’s delicate balance between preservation and development. It is this balance that makes the Adirondacks a unique combination of community, nature, and business.

Governor Paterson recently nominated Olmstedville, NY resident Peter Hornbeck to serve as one of the APA’s commissioners.

Peter Hornbeck is a former school teacher and longtime resident of the Adirondacks, has served on organizations committed to the protection and preservation of the Adirondack environment, and owns a successful and respected small business within the park.

Community, nature, and business.

Sounds like a match, doesn’t it? It certainly does to us. This seems like the type of well-balanced nominee the Adirondacks deserve, and it should be the type of nominee that people on the development side of the pendulum, and on the preservation side of the pendulum, can find common ground around. But alas, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Some people, including Senator Betty Little, appear to believe that Mr. Hornbeck’s conservation efforts are reason to oppose him. The argument, we can only assume, is that his environmental concerns will tilt the APA toward preservation and away from development.

This is an argument we might be able to understand if Peter Hornbeck was an activist with little or no ties to the park, or if he had no connection or experience with what it takes to develop a successful business here. But that is not the case – Mr. Hornbeck has strong ties to both the environment and the business community. And so opposition to his nomination strikes us as nothing more than an extension of the politics of which most of us have grown tired. The all or nothing “no compromise” approach, the refusal to recognize concession or middle ground in any situation, and the willingness to obstruct things until you get your way – no matter how large or small, important or trivial, the issue may be.

In the end, our disappointment with this “politics as usual” was as much a reason for us to reach out to our Senator as was our support of Mr. Hornbeck.

Here is our letter:

Dear Senator Little,

We are new residents in your district, having moved here just before the new year. We are writing to express our support for the nomination of Peter Hornbeck to the Adirondack Park Agency and ask that you reconsider your opposition to him.

While we understand the desire to avoid overloading an agency with certain points of view, the fact is Mr. Hornbeck does NOT represent just one point of view. He is a citizen concerned with the preservation of the park, a successful and respected small business owner, and a proud member of the Adirondack community. Isn’t that, in many ways, what the Adirondacks are all about? A mix of nature, business, and community? People like Mr. Hornbeck are the exact type of people who should be appointed to positions like this… community members who represent the park and its residents.

We could appreciate the reasons for your opposition if the nominee was some hot shot environmental lawyer and activist whose main tie to the park is a summer home. But since that could not be further from the truth, we struggle to see this as anything other than an opposition to reasonable compromise and an extension of the politics of which we have all grown weary.

“Compromise” seems to be a word lost on politicians these days, replaced instead by “no” for anything that resembles middle ground. That this is prominent in Washington is one thing; that we find it here, in situations such as this, is simply disappointing.

Please, reconsider your position and support the nomination of Peter Hornbeck to the APA.


Dave and Jess

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