John Sheehan is spokesman for the Adirondack Council. He said there's no conflict between boosting small businesses and continuing to protect environmental resources. And, like Whaley and Sayward, he thinks an Adirondack-specific economic zone would benefit everyone involved.
But for Sheehan, the most exciting aspect of the discussion is the chance for historically at-odds groups to work together toward a common goal. He notes that the last time different organizations got together, the results were positive.
"I think it's already proven to be effective in that we already defeated the Governor's proposal to stop paying taxes on the Forest Preserve a couple years ago," Sheehan said. "That was the first time we saw that working together was for the benefit of everybody. Given the fact most of the leadership in Albany is run by folks south of Westchester County, it makes it imperative that groups in the Adirondacks get along in order to reach common goals."
Sayward notes the Empire Zone program wasn't a complete failure - so as the legislation is drafted, she doesn't aim to reinvent the wheel.
"We'll certainly look at the Adirondack Council's ideas and the ideas that come out of the Common Ground Alliance as we move forward with this bill, and we'll pick the best ideas and downsize them to fit the park's needs," she said.
As the Adirondack Caucus continues drafting its bill, the Common Ground Alliance has sent a letter to Governor David Paterson's office calling on him to create a new economic development program for rural areas.