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Recreational path on a crash course

December 29, 2008
Lake Placid News
It’s too bad that North Elba Town Board members put the proposed recreational path between Lake Placid and Saranac Lake on hold indefinitely. After seven-plus years and about $120,000 spent ($70,000 from the state), they’re still on the engineering phase — and engineering costs are spiraling up.

Some kind of bike path between these neighboring villages really is needed, and there should be a way to get it done. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be one in the foreseeable future.

That’s too bad since so many people here commute every day between Lake Placid, Saranac Lake and Ray Brook. Even more commuters would bike now than in the past, given the recent (and probably future) high cost of gas. Now there are also triathletes training regularly on that and other local roads in warm-weather months, creating more demand for a bike lane.

It’s a shame the project has come to a standstill, and although that is probably frustrating for local officials, it should also be frustrating for those who want to see the project come to fruition. Too bad officials weren’t able to move ahead faster when the Adirondack Park Agency gave its blessing to the project last year. Perhaps no one in particular is to blame — and maybe it was’t possible — but it would have been nice if when the state first provided the funds for the project, plans were made and acted upon at a quicker pace. As more time goes by, surely costs can be expected to increase.

Certainly engineering and planning are key components, but how much engineering is really needed to build a paved bike path and install a fence between that path and the railroad tracks? It’s not like they’re building a high-tech facility or complicated structure. Is the answer ultimately going to be eliminating the rail line and replacing it with a bike path, which would reduce the cost of the project and probably make it more feasible?

Maybe the next donation from Ironman to the Olympic Region will be funding for the recreation path, as it would be of mutual benefit to the community and athletes in training.

Officials apparently understand the importance of constructing a recreational path between Lake Placid and Saranac Lake — but at this pace, it sadly may never happen.


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