To the editor:
After nearly two years, the Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates' proposal for removing the rails and developing a recreational trail from Old Forge to Lake Placid has gone from the Adirondack North Country Association saying it's nothing more than a distraction, and (state Department of Transportation) Region 2 Rail saying it's not even on their radar, to the state Department of Environmental Conservation and DOT reopening the corridor UMP, or unit management plan. Now ARTA will have to have serious strategy and not slack off. Leading more than 12,000 petitioners, the New York State Snowmobile Association and Parks & Trails, and with more than half the towns and villages that have supported the UMP review calling for immediate rail removal for the trail, we are definitely in the running.
After 20 years of trying, the railroad has not scratched the surface of the promised benefits: no ancillary jobs, no trickle-down economic benefit, no historic preservation, no takeover of expenses, just the continuing drain on the collective pocketbook.
For snowmobiling, the trail would require nothing more than removing the rail to be HUGE. How many more would come to town to stay, eat and use services, not only for the added 91-mile trail but the access to more: more miles, more loops, more excitement.
For bicycling? You decide. ARTA's studies are cited as biased, so you do the research. Google up "rail trails" or "bike trail economics." Bike trails are youth magnets and good for property values. Judge for yourself; then join the team. Get off the bench and in the game.
The Adirondack Scenic Railroad would continue from Utica to Old Forge, but what will be the benefit of going farther? Will their anticipated new business plan include paying to upgrade the track? Will the cost be worth the benefit? Do businesses on Route 28, Eagle Bay and the Big Moose road benefit from the $1.2 million-plus we all paid to move the train from Carter to Big Moose? Is Beaver River next? Now there's a business plan.
The Saratoga and North Creek railroad (remember the Pullman cars for ASR?) is unable to pay its county obligations; the MA&N no longer operates from Utica. It's time for the state to change the game plan.
With your help and involvement, We could go - all - the - way!
Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates