Balanced representation is critical on the APA board

For a generation, Adirondackers have felt uneasy about an evolution that was occurring around them. Evidence of the trend was hard to pin down because it crept up on everyone here so gradually.

But looking back over the last few decades, it's clear that life in the Adirondacks, particularly in the more remote areas, has changed drastically.

Where commerce and industry once thrived, the local communities don't offer much in the way of employment. There's not much work available except at wages that are not sufficient to meet basic needs. We've seen our communities shrink, primarily due to limited employment opportunities.

We heard a decade ago that the Internet would make jobs practical in the Adirondacks, through "virtual commuting."

Regardless of this national trend, it just hasn't developed here as predicted.

Across the Adirondacks, school enrollment has shrunk more than 30 percent over the past few decades as families have moved out in a quest to provide a more promising future for their children.

This exodus has effected our lives in many ways.

Many churches that 25 years ago had full congregations for worship services, have scores of near-empty pews every Sunday. In towns across the Adirondacks, clubs, teams and organizations that once flourished are gone or are barely surviving.

On the other hand, properties now change hands at prices local working families can't really afford - prices driven up by people who merely want a summer retreat. Many of these homes are dark and empty for most of the year.

On top of this, Adirondackers' household budgets are hurting because of the spiraling cost of necessities.

These trends were confirmed last year by the Adirondack Park Regional Assessment Project report.

This study concluded that communities in the Adirondacks are acutely threatened, and this has alarmed local officials and researchers alike.

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