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Winners, losers in VIC transition

Losers

"There's no way to sugarcoat it," said Paul Hai, program coordinator for SUNY-ESF's Adirondack Ecological Center and Northern Forest Institute, "The wonderful people who were doing the work for the Adirondack Park Agency at the VICs."

Hai said the out-of-work employees lost in the short-term and he hopes they will soon move on to other jobs. He had worked closely with these employees since 2003 and speaks highly of the APA and the staff who built the centers and operated them for more than 20 years.

"These places exist because of the people who did the work here," Hai said. "What those guys created at the interpretive centers is a legacy, and they should be proud of it."

At the same time, as New York agencies dealt with budget shortfalls by closing environmental education centers around the state in 2010, "environmental education lost," he said, noting the workforce reduction at APA and Department of Environmental Conservation environmental education centers. "The APA made a tough choice ... We're really hoping we can lessen that blow by keeping this center open."

API Executive Director Dan Fitts agrees with Hai about the loss to employees and the legacy they created. He calls the APA's decision "understandable," yet he laments the loss to taxpayers who once learned about the wonders of the 6-million-acre Adirondack Park from state workers.

"I sure think the state of New York loses by not being able to fund those areas," Fitts said. "It was real nice for the state to tell the story of the Adirondack Park."

While Paul Smith's College Communications Director Ken Aaron recognizes that the transition created hardship for the people who lost jobs, he sees the state of New York as a winner because the mission of the VICs will be continued under the college's watch.

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