The following article was written by NYSOWA member, Leo Maloney, and was originally published in the Oneida Daily Dispatch.
If you think that spending over $11 million to destroy business, keeping tourists and sportsmen from enjoying the Adirondacks, and destroying a historical landmark to satisfy a few wealthy “meanie-greenies” and the people they have duped, then perhaps you should you should be governor or maybe work for the NYS DEC.
As reported earlier NYS intends to tear up 34 miles of Adirondack railroad tracks from Tupper Lake to Lake Placid and replace it with a “super trail” for hikers and bikers, as well as use by snowmobilers – if they ever get any snow in that area. This is the wish of ARTA, financed and promoted by wealthy visitors like Lee Keet and Tony Goodwin, Dick Beamish, and others who convinced Tupper Lake and Lake Placid that this “super trail” would bring many thousands of tourists every year.
The State was either convinced by this nonsense or influenced by sizable donations and decided to destroy the Adirondack Railroad, even though successful and thriving businesses like the Rail Explorer rail bikes were using the tracks and bringing in lots of tourists and money to Saranac Lake. The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) approved this foolish idea even though it would destroy the Adirondack Railroad and its plans to run regular excursions to Lake Placid. The Adirondack Railroad planned on including drop-off access for sportsmen to the many places along the way that are otherwise inaccessible.
In a subsequent lawsuit the court over-ruled the APA and said that a classification of Travel Corridor in the State Land Master Plan only applied to automobile or train traffic. The DEC has recently told the APA that it wants them to hold hearings and re-classify a Travel Corridor, enabling them to tear up the tracks. Obviously, the decision to pursue this course of action comes from the governor’s office.
The DEC says that it will let the Railroad keep the tracks to Tupper Lake. This might sound like a compromise, but who would ever want to use it? If you think that Tupper Lake is a destination for tourists, then we can sell you a couple bridges over the Raquette River! They would acknowledge the Historical Landmark of the Adirondack Railroad by placing some stupid monument in an obscure spot in the woods. This is worse than a slap in the face.
The DEC is already confident of victory and has reached out to the “stakeholders” for meetings on their desires for the super trail when the railroad is destroyed.
Meanwhile a thriving business, the Rail Explorer in Saranac Lake was using the tracks for a popular rail bike business where customers sat on cars and pedaled up to Lake Clear or back. It was booked solid for two years, brought in lots of people, and was an important economic boost to the region. Now it is gone in anticipation of the decision.
With no passenger train to Lake Placid, there will be no drop-off for canoeists, backpackers, campers, fishermen, or hunters to access areas like the Five Ponds Wilderness. The area is off limits to roads, seaplanes, etc. and is surrounded by vast private estates. So much for the governor’s initiative of “New York open to hunting and fishing!”
The fact is that there could be a hiking and biking trail, and even a snowmobile trail alongside the railroad in practically all of this area. It just would not be as wide or elaborate. I am not against snowmobiling, hiking, or biking. But we don’t need to destroy other opportunities just to enhance these sports.
Of course a certain hotel owner from Beaver River is clamoring for removal of all the tracks with the idea of creating a super trail for snowmobiles. He obviously thinks that snowmobiles will be the key for making his hotel business in Beaver River rich. He bombards the media weekly with his propaganda how this snowmobile route would be the greatest thing to ever hit the Adirondacks. I think that it was Mark Twain who famously said, “Get your facts first, then distort them as you wish!”
Perhaps some of you believe that local Adirondack businesses do not need more economic activity, that sportsmen should not have access to Wilderness areas, and that average tourists, the elderly, the young, or disabled veterans have no business seeing and enjoying the Adirondacks? That is your right.
But if you are on the side of small businesses, sportsmen, and average people who want to see unique areas of the Adirondacks, then write before May 7. Contact Kathy Regan, PO Box 99, Adirondack Park Agency, Ray Brook, NY 12977 or e-mail SLMP_comments@apa.ny.gov. Remember it is your Adirondacks too!