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One of the Ton-Da-Lay architectural drawings from 1972.  Photo: Andy Flynn
One of the Ton-Da-Lay architectural drawings from 1972. Photo: Andy Flynn

Adirondack Attic: Remembering Ton-Da-Lay

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Andy Flynn visited the Adirondack Museum to look at architectural drawings for Ton-Da-Lay, a development in the town of Altamont, now Tupper Lake, that was proposed in the 1970s.

It called for creating 4,000 lots on 18,500 acres of property in the northern part of the town, with a goal of attracting 20,000 people. That's four times the population of the villages of Tupper Lake or Saranac Lake. The proposal was approved by the town, but rejected by the state.

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Andy Flynn
Adirondack Correspondent

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Andy Flynn was joined at the Adirondack museum with librarian, Jerry Pepper.

“The developer was from Connecticut, the Architect was from Northern California, and you can see this belongs in Northern California,” Pepper explained. The cedar framed town houses looked like they were from Northern California, all right on the river, with their own docks for boats, he said.

The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), stopped the project, not the park agency, explained pepper, “(DEC) had recently taken jurisdiction for protecting the state waterways from the Department of health, and the commissioner Henry Diamond, was a protégé of Nelson Rockefeller, denied the permit for the development septic system.”

Later, in 1974, Supreme Court of State of New York upheld the DEC power to deny Ton-Da-Lay a permit, stated Pepper. “It sort of established the right of the state to regulate private land use in the Adirondack Park after the establishment of the park agency. But it wasn’t the park agency, it was the DEC,” said Pepper.

Pepper read a quote from a local resident in a 1972 New York Times article, “They have to let us make a living, we have to survive, Ton-Da-Lay upgrades our tax base. It will be good for our stores.” Pepper went on to say, “It’s the same exact arguments that you’re hearing for the Adirondack Club and Resort, and this is in 1972, so this is what, 40 years ago?”

“A large scale resort in Tupper Lake is not new. It created controversy in 1970s and is creating controversy now,” stated Pepper, “history has a strange way of repeating itself.”

The Adirondacks, Pepper believes, allow people to pursue their fantasies, to allow their imagination to create all sorts of ideas.

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