To the editor:
Three recent letters in Adirondac (Adirondack Mountain Club's spring issue) reconvince me why the Great Adirondack Rail Trail will happen.
In one, David Banks cites a study by University of Wisconsin on the economic impact of rail trails in Wisconsin: $924 million income (statewide, yearly), 13,193 jobs and 1.2 million trail uses. That is 0.011 jobs per trail use. This makes the numbers put forth by the Rail Trail Conservancy study very reasonable: 240,000 visitors, $20 million additional revenue. The "jobs created" number was never put forth, but using this same ratio of 0.011, we could look forward to 2,600 jobs being created. Even if this number is off by a factor of 10, 260 new year-round jobs is something the North Country Regional Economic Development Council should endorse. Yet Garry Douglas, its co-chair, thinks the rail trail is a ludicrous waste. His motives should be questioned. It's 260 jobs' Garry; if you don't think the community deserves them, you should step aside and let someone take your place who does.
The second letter, from William Cotrofeld, tells of the takeover of a down-and-out railroad by Vermont. It was subsequently leased and now hauls 20 to 40 rail cars per day of limestone from a quarry. It's a good use of the railroad. Could something similar happen here, he asks? To do so, we would need a point source of raw material: a mine or quarry. Considering the vehement opposition to "fracking," wind turbines and oil wells in the Park, I hardly think a mine would get permitted unless it were for gold, diamonds or some rare earth. There is no economic reason for a freight railroad.
The third letter, from Dick Beamish, pretty much sums up the thinking: "The debate over the best use of the rail corridor should be over."
If you feel unlocking the rail corridor to 240,000 people a year enjoying a clean, healthy adventure while creating local jobs and adding $20 million to the local economy is worthwhile, write, call or email your selected or elected officials and tell them so. They are supposed to be working for you.
Big Moose and Chagrin Falls, Ohio