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Park leaders hold annual economic huddle

Local government leaders from throughout the Adirondack Park gathered in Lake Placid on Tuesday for their annual Local Government Conference.

Presentations by officials from various state agencies and departments focused on ways government entities can partner to streamline services and regulations, attract business and manage the Park's natural resources.

Speakers included state Adirondack Park Agency Chairman Curt Styles, state Department of Environmental Conservation Assistant Commissioner Chris Amato and representatives from the state Department of State, the Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages and the Governor's Committee for Economic Development.

About 200 people attended the open gathering hosted by the Crowne Plaza Resort, including supervisors, mayors, and trustees from dozens of towns and villages.

This is the 14th local government conference - Tuesday's speakers emphasized the urgency of sharing services and working together amid state budget cuts.

Leaders from the APA and DEC described themselves as facilitators of economic development rather than impediments to growth.

Styles said the role of the APA has long been misunderstood.

"The APA is for development," he declared, noting that the sort of economic development Gov. Andrew Cuomo has called for is "consistent with the APA."

In recent years, the Local Government Review Board has attacked the APA for crowding out private sector growth. Styles said that's not the case.

"It's a well-kept secret, but the APA has become very user-friendly," he said. Styles invited local leaders to "visit early and often," explaining that he hopes to have more dialog with municipalities about fostering sustainable economic growth.

The Local Government Conference resumes this morning at 8:30 with the Department of State's Dede Scozzafava giving a presentation in the afternoon. The forum is open to everyone.

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