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Community needs a rec trail; ARTA proposal lacks insight

September 17, 2011
Lake Placid News
To the editor:

We are concerned local citizens who firmly believe that our community needs a multi-use recreation trail in the Railroad corridor. Having recently visited Stowe Vt., I saw first hand how popular their recreational path is. The Tri-lakes need this type of easily accessible, family friendly recreation path otherwise visitors may begin to shift their vacation plans elsewhere.  

However after attending the informational meeting that Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates (ARTA) organized we were dismayed by the position this organization is taking.  

The expression “One bird in the hand is better than two in the bush” comes to mind when I heard ARTA’s proposal.  For more than a decade, multiple groups have worked tirelessly to negotiate a compromise that works for everyone involved.  

The “Trail by Rail” recreational path is fully permitted between Lake Placid and Ray brook and is expected to be permitted to Saranac Lake. Grant money has been secured to pay for the majority of the costs and the project is ready to go out to bid.  This trail can be completed in a couple of years.

However ARTA suggests that we throw away that effort and insist that the rail be torn up so that a recreational trail can be made from Lake Placid to Tupper Lake. I agree with them that this would be the best use of this land and would love to see this trail; however this argument should have been forcefully made 10 years ago at the start of the project, not now that so much effort has been put forth toward the “Trail by Rail” plan.

It is false to claim that the grant money that has been secured for the “Trail by Rail” path can be reallocated. We would have to reapply for new grants and apply for new permits for a project that the DOT is firmly against and may require an act of the State Legislator to approve. It would take another decade to even prepare to build the path that ARTA is proposing, and nothing in our current economic climate suggests that this money will be available at that point.

I don’t understand why ARTA is taking such a hard stance against the current, fully permitted and funded plan.  Their biggest  argument against the train is that it is an economic drain on the state, mostly the DOT. However building the “Trail by Rail” path doesn’t impact the train’s profitability either way.  

Additionally, a successful rail by trail system between LP and SL would only strengthen the  argument for future expansion of the trail to Tupper Lake.

The existing grant money will be lost if we do not act on the current plan, it would be a shame to see this opportunity lost.  So many of us have been waiting for this path for such a long time, I would hate to give up this vision due to an inability to compromise.

Debbie and Jeff Erenstone

Lake Placid


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