Monday, April 24, 2017

DEC Releases Draft Adirondack Rail Trail Plan

Draft Adirondack Rail Trail PlanA Draft Adirondack Rail Trail Conceptual Plan outlining the general design and features of the future 34-mile, multi-use recreational trail on the railway bed between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake has been released for public review and comment.

“The Draft Adirondack Rail Trail Conceptual Plan is an important step in developing a unique, world class outdoor recreation trail like no other in the Adirondacks, New York State, or the nation,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said in a statement issued late Monday. “The rail trail will connect the villages of Tupper Lake, Saranac Lake, and Lake Placid, providing visitors and residents with new opportunities to walk, hike, and bike in three seasons, and cross-country ski, snowshoe, and snowmobile in winter, boosting local economies in surrounding communities all year long.”

The press DEC release announcing the plan’s release also said:

The draft plan provides design recommendations based on the input from the Adirondack Rail Trail Stakeholder group. The shared goal of DEC and the Stakeholder group is to develop and manage a recreational trail that maximizes public use by residents and visitors of all abilities, ensures a safe and enjoyable experience for trail users, and minimizes negative effects on natural resources, adjacent residents, and other trail users.

The draft plan describes a 10-foot wide stone dust tread for the full 34-mile length of the trail with shoulders a minimum width of 2.5 feet on each side. The trail and its amenities will comply with American Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements to the maximum extent possible to ensure it is accessible for use by people of all abilities. The trail will also connect to numerous hiking, biking, paddling, fishing, and camping opportunities on the adjacent lands and waters of the Adirondack Forest Preserve.

The municipalities have scheduled four public information sessions along the rail trail corridor where the Draft Conceptual Plan will be presented and questions answered from attendees:

Village of Saranac Lake and town of Harrietstown (two meetings)

  • May 1 and May 2 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Cantwell Community Room of the Saranac Lake Free Library at 109 Main St., Saranac Lake, NY

Village and town of Tupper Lake

  • May 3 from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Downstairs Community Room of Goff-Nelson Memorial Library at 41 Lake St., Tupper Lake, NY

Village of Lake Placid and town of North Elba

  • May 4 May 4 from 6 to 8 p.m. in the First Floor Meeting Room of the Town Hall at 2693 Main St., Lake Placid, NY

DEC will also hold two meetings with an availability session from 3 to 5 p.m. and a public meeting from 6 to 8 p.m. DEC will answer questions and accept comments during each of the two afternoon availability sessions. DEC staff will share a presentation and offer the public the opportunity to comment on the draft plan during the evening public meetings.

The first meeting will be held on Tuesday, May 9, in the Community Room of the Tupper Lake Emergency Services Building at 31 Santa Clara Ave., Tupper Lake, NY. The second meeting will be held on Wednesday, May 10, in the main conference room of the DEC Region 5 Headquarters at 1115 State Route 86, Ray Brook, NY.

The Draft Conceptual Plan is available to view or download on the DEC website at http://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/62816.html. Copies of the Draft Conceptual Plan are also available for review at DEC Region 5 Headquarters in Ray Brook and the municipal offices of the villages of Tupper Lake, Saranac Lake, and Lake Placid, and the towns of Tupper Lake, Santa Clara, Harrietstown, and North Elba.

Public comments will be accepted until close of business June 2, 2017. Written comments may be mailed to Senior Forester Steve Guglielmi, NYSDEC Region 5, P.O. Box 296, Ray Brook, NY 12977 or sent by e-mail to: r5.ump@dec.ny.gov


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131 Responses

  1. Jim says:

    This has never existed and now it is needed?

    There is one rail line and thousands of miles of hiking trails. Some of trails are threatened to be closed because of the lack of use. Most are maintained by volunteers and local residents because the DEC does not have the money to care for them.

    So now they are building a 15′ wide road.

    Who wants to “hike” on a road? (I’m a 46-R) Want to cross country ski on a snowmobile trail that is strait, flat with sleds going 60mph? Doubt it.

    • Boreas says:

      I’m an OLD 46-R and I want to ride my bike on it without a car anywhere near me. Walking and skiing on the trail sounds great as well!! I have ridden a train before – not for me.

      • Bob Kibbey says:

        I’m with you, Boreas

      • Bruce says:

        Boreas,

        I wish folks would realize this is about reviewing a plan for a trail, not re-hashing tired discussions of rail AND trail, or rail vs. trail.

        • Larry Roth says:

          Nothing tired about it, because you know it’s not going to end here. The trail people have said and continue to say their goal is to get rid of the tracks all the way back to Thendara. They accept the ‘compromise’ only as a means of getting the first 34 miles – they still want the rest.

          • Boreas says:

            Larry,

            Wanting and getting are two different things. Once the rail system is renovated and successful between Rome and TL, do you really think the state would tear up that section? Sure, if it languishes another 20 years, maybe they will look at that option. But I have never bought in the Evil Empire scenario.

            • Ben says:

              That means you assume a rail operator will come along & want to get on board with the state to manage the line. Let’s go ask Iowa Pacific how their little secenic adventure over in Saratoga is going. I hear they are loosing over 1,000,000 a year on that scenic rail line & it has better equipment & a ski resort at the end of it’s line!

              • Jim says:

                Yes the ultimate goal is to tear up the tracks, doesn’t matter how much money the state has spent. (It’s all borrowed). Check the deficit.
                Want to talk losses? Check out Amtrak, they loose between 200 and $300,000,000.

                The sad part of all of this is that 50 years from now people will say what a shame they pulled the tracks for a trail that went into disrepair.

    • Steve says:

      Snowmobile trails are definitely not a place to ski.

      • Boreas says:

        Steve,

        I disagree. I ski and walk them them all the time. Bloomingdale Bog trail? Not very challenging, but in my condition still do-able. I don’t enjoy the snowmobiles, but they break trail well. Often skis aren’t necessary so you can just take a nice winter walk and do some birding.

  2. Terry says:

    Good points, Jim…..I agree!!

  3. Jim R says:

    The trail will likely serve mostly as a bike route. It will be the only gentle grade bike route in the Adirondacks and therefore accessible to more casual riders. I live part of the year in Pittsburgh where the rail trails are wildly popular with a wide range of riders. The level gravel trails enable families, older folks, commuters and riders of all abilities to bike in an otherwise very hilly region.

  4. Larry Roth says:

    The only thing world class about this is the marketing of it.

  5. Ben says:

    Why does the anti trail crowd even bother responding on here. We all know you opinions & views are anti-trail. We’ve heard it all, & some of us are tired of the CRAP! The court will decide one way or another on the trail vs rail decision. But then again, the state has already decided to not renew the permit to run trains on the northern end of the line & I wouldn’t expect it to change, even if the state looses in court. In the end, you will have less rail than what you would have gotten if Option 7 were to go forward.You may win in court, but you’ll end up with less at the end!

    • Larry Roth says:

      Not so. We want rails AND trails. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. Why are you willing to settle for less? The rest of the world understands this.

      • Mike says:

        Larry if you want a train, go build a track in your back yard. Rails and trails won’t work and we know that. Time to move on and build the TRAIL!

        • David P Lubic says:

          You’ve already lost. That shows up when all you can offer are insults.

          Jeez, when will people ever learn this?

      • Bruce says:

        Larry,

        First off, who is “We”? I consider myself a living, breathing, thinking, and reasonably intelligent part of “the rest of the world.” What I don’t understand is why anyone would keep beating on a dead horse.

      • Steve Shostack says:

        That is untrue. I was living in Saranac Lake in ’99 – ’03 and the line being carried by the train folks was that a rail + trail was too dangerous; even with a fence separating them. Going to the talking point you are now saying is just trying to seem like a compromiser; but that is just not what the facts are. All the arguments against the trail are straw men. I get it that you and others really like the trains, and would like for them to be back in their glory days, but that is just not the case today; nor will it be tomorrow. I would like people to stop playing with their phones so that they don’t kill cyclists on the road, but that is not going to happen either…it is just the current state of life. Just stick to facts that you are sure of, and don’t overstate them to force your point.

    • Big Burly says:

      @Ben. It is incorrect to state that a decision about a train permit has been made. The previous permit has never been revoked, it is subject to federal oversight in any event. There is no unanimity in the NYS position. It is quite interesting that DEC and the rip ’em up folks have proceeded to develop this plan while the legal proceeding has been underway. There are significant challenges to getting a trail completed as this excerpt from the plan states … KEY ISSUES AND ISSUES TO BE RESOLVED:

      During the design phase a number of issues surfaced that will require resolution before installation of the trail. These include:

      · Assumed corridor reduction in the vicinity of Floodwood Pond and Paradise Lane. The narrowed ROW (approximately 30’ +/- at the narrowest) is partially steep slope and partially Paradise Lane. Cross access may need to be provided for private landowners on both sides of the ROW. · The entire corridor is eligible or listed and has contributing elements. DEC/DOT/SHPO have signed a Letter of Resolution (LOR) and any future modifications to the contributing elements need to be coordinated with SHPO before they can be undertaken. · DOT Salvage Yard at Tupper Lake may need to remain for several years. Its location will affect the current design of the trail (it occupies all available land on the north side of the active rail) and if it remains it is not available for snowmobile trailer parking as currently desired. · Coordination with the Lake Placid Historical Society regarding the termination of the trail and its amenities needs to continue, as they are landowners of the train depot parcel. · Property ownership and property boundaries need to be verified for parcels that appear to be privately owned along Paradise Lane and along Lake Clear that are directly adjacent to the corridor. The existence of any cross access easements needs to be researched. · Develop rules, signs, and methods to minimize conflicts between permanent and seasonal residents along Paradise Lane and along Lake Clear and trail users. · Minor structure encroachments along the length of the trail (fences) that could compromise the safety of trail users, particularly higher-speed snowmobiles. · Mapped wetlands appear to cross the ROW in certain areas. Formal wetland delineations will need to be performed in select areas to confirm the presence or non-presence of wetlands. · The proposed trail connections from the Fish Creek and Rollins Pond Campgrounds to the trail corridor will need additional study and mapping to determine the best accessible alignment with the least environmental impacts, as both the north and south connectors cross potential wetlands and traverse steep slopes. · The proposed fishing piers or platforms will likely require wetland permits at their proposed locations. · The Saranac Lake Train Station is under the jurisdiction of the NYSDOT and therefore any potential future development or redevelopment is dependent upon the approval of the NYSDOT. · A portion of the corridor is not controlled by the NYSDOT. It is owned by the Essex County, Franklin County, and North Country Community College. The DEC is working with the counties and the NCCC to obtain the necessary property interests to allow for public use of the trail. · The use of the ‘snowfields’ and the former sand pit off Will Rogers Drive as proposed snowmobile trailer parking needs to be coordinated by the local municipalities.

      The recent announcements about the renovation of Frontier Town, the investments in cross state trails along the Erie and in the Champlain Valley while all good things, will suck up a lot of money. The TRAC design done by volunteers with significant assist from DEC Region 5 personnel foresaw the issues noted above and for a lot less money than it will take to fix those described, could offer users except snowmobiles all that is described elsewhere in the proposed plan.

      • Ben says:

        The state owns the corridor & the DEC DIDNOT renew the lease for the train to operate on the northern end this year. Federal oversight has nothing to do here. The DEC decided not to renew a lease period!

        • David P Lubic says:

          Ah, but does the state own the corridor?

          That’s the nub of the whole easement issue.

          Remember, we apparently have several easements where there weren’t supposed to be any at all. There are apparently others besides the two the state has admitted to so far. Remember the easements usually have reversion clauses, returning the property to the current owners if the railroad disappears. The deeds don’t say “trail,” they don’t say “corridor,” they say RAILROAD.

          That means, to get the trail, you need a NEW easement agreement, at a NEW price. There have been cases where the new agreements have run up to $5 million per mile. To put that in perspective, to pave a trail with asphalt is typically about $1 million per mile.

          Do you think your neighbors like money?

          http://archive.commercialappeal.com/news/feds-agree-to-pay-51-million-to-settle-suit-with-owners-along-shelby-farms-greenline-ep-1064564594-324406101.html

        • Big Burly says:

          @Ben, simply put, you are incorrect in these statements regarding the operating lease. In particular DEC has nothing to do with the lease, period!

          • Ben says:

            They control the corridor on behalf of the state.

            • Big Burly says:

              @Ben, again incorrect about DEC control. The R-LP rail transportation corridor is under the jurisdiction of NYS DoT and has been since 1974 when NYS purchased the ROW in the bankruptcy court proceeding of the Penn Central. The Federal Railway Agency rules govern rail operations. These are facts and available to anyone willing to do the research

  6. Keith Gorgas says:

    Very bad for Saranac Lake working class people if this comes to pass, but maybe that was the reason behind it.

  7. Dennis Cooper says:

    Just plain dumb. Once the rails are gone, their gone forever. People that support this have never been to Europe. Where you can get “anywhere by rail”. Less cars, less pollution, easy access, convenient, yada, yada, yada. Millennials of today are living in cities, not buying cars and will need “public transportation”. They will be the future of the Adirondacks. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

    • Boreas says:

      Dennis,

      But this isn’t Europe, it is Forest Preserve (public land!). Big difference. The corridor is owned by taxpayers, but currently only used by a scenic RR. Public transportation?? Been dead here for 50+ years. Scenic railroad? Nice if you can afford the ticket. But it ties up a lot of track for very limited seasonal use. Fewer cars? How do you get to the train station? How do you get around once you get to your destination? Rickshaws? Horses? The compromise is fine with me.

      • Chip Ordway says:

        “only used by a scenic RR”

        Um……are we forgetting those things that start with “Snow” and end in “Mobile”?

      • Paul says:

        Boreas, be careful don’t say Forest Preserve or there won’t be trail. It is apparently a DOT travel corridor. One that is apparently not a RR ROW. But a ROW that can be used for any kind of “travel”.

        • Boreas says:

          Whoopsie!!

        • David P Lubic says:

          Have we forgotten the easement issue?

          There are apparently more easements than the state has admitted to. Heck, there weren’t supposed to be any at all!

          And they all likely have reversion clauses. Take up the railroad, the easement goes with it. The deeds are the deciding document; they don’t read “trail,” they don’t read “corridor,” they read “RAILROAD.”

          And no easement means no trail, at least not without spending a lot more money for a new easement agreement. . .if the owners even want it.

          Jeez, how many times do I have to explain this?

          • David P Lubic says:

            If the easement issue is as serious as I’ve been told it is, then everyone had better hope the state loses and the railroad wins. Otherwise those easements go away, and everybody loses, including the trail people.

            No easement, no trail. . .no easement, no trail. . .no easement, no trail. . .no easement, no trail. . .

  8. Kyle says:

    https://yorkcountypa.gov/parks-recreation/the-parks/heritage-rail-trail-park.html

    I love both railroads and rail trails. There’s an option we have down here in York County PA where there are both. The Heritage Rail Trail kept the tracks and it and the Stream into History railroad have been wildly successful. All the rail trails I’ve supported around here have been established on long abandoned commercial lines. I can’t understand wanting to rip up the tracks on a line that has another viable use.

    Other examples are The Western Maryland Scenic Railroad runs parallel with a long stretch if The Great Allegheny Passage rail trail and they even offer a train to load your bike on a ride to one end, then get off and ride your bike back.

    Then there is the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railroad that operates out of Jim Thorpe, PA. They offer a bike train as well to support the Lehigh Gorge Rail Trail https://www.lgsry.com/bike-trains .

    In closing I’ve been told to mind my business before on this matter because I’m not from up there. While that is true I have been regularly visiting the ADKs annually (or more) for 10 years now and I’m the person you want to attract to these places to spend my money at your local businesses.

    • Ben says:

      Both are outstanding rails & trails, but neither of them pass thru a State controlled corridor. Neither of them are bound by state rules & regulations about wetland activity or wild forest. So comparing both of them to this trail proposal is like comparing apples to oranges.

  9. Mike from Indian Lake says:

    Bring on the trail! Good for the local economies! Can’t wait to ride my sled and bike on it and spend lots of money in the small towns. Bravo to the people who have fought hard for this to happen. Thank you!

    • David P Lubic says:

      You are already here. You already spend your money here.

      How are you supposed to grow the economy? That takes money from the outside.

      • Boreas says:

        Not true at all. If he sits at home he doesn’t spend ANY money. If he gets out and uses the trail, he does. Is he going to ride the train in the winter – or summer for that matter? Snowmobiles require gasoline. Trail users eat. The money may not go to the big resorts and RR, but that doesn’t mean a trail doesn’t generate money. A lot of locals fish and hunt. They don’t contribute to local economies?? I believe they would disagree. It doesn’t matter WHO is spending the money – money is revenue.

  10. Paul says:

    ” world class outdoor recreation trail like no other in the Adirondacks, New York State, or the nation”

    The nation? Get bent.

    It will probably be a nice trail but this is way over hyped.

    • Boreas says:

      Paul,

      Hype is abundant on both sides here.

      • Paul says:

        Yes, they should both knock it off. Here you have the state spreading the hype.

        Maybe he means “in the nation” since it may be the only one where you can view two “dumps/junkyards” and a federal prison in such a short distance!

        On the map there is no indication of what type of work will be required to cross the Saranac river. There isn’t even a fence mentioned. Have you ever crossed that bridge – they gotta have some kind of fence on both sides, or you will have dead kids in the river. It just says 10 foot wide stone dust trail. There is no ten feet wide on that bridge unless they are planning to build a new one which will cost more than the entire budget.

        They need to add a few more details.

        • Boreas says:

          Paul,

          Go to the website mentioned above and download the PDF file. There were more than 100 pages of details including fairly detailed maps.

          • Paul says:

            I did – that is what made me have the question. The map shows nothing for that crossing it only points to a “10 foot wide dust stone path”? Like I said the bridge is just slightly wider than the rails on that bridge and probably on the one crossing Lake Colby as well. There they have some fencing which I think is not really fencing but some posts which may be adequate there since that one is at water level. The bridge over the river is pretty high. They don’t indicate what the plan is there. Did you see something in the plan about it? Where this trail goes in SL with all the road crossing and the bridge really kills it for me as far as any world class ride?

  11. Smitty says:

    So excited for the rail trail. We bike them alot in PA. Flat grade, no traffic. And they get so much use. This will be extremely popular I’m sure. Well done NY.

  12. Paul says:

    “property owned by dormitory authority on NYS” – what does that mean?

    That is really weird? They don’t normally own any property? Isn’t that just a state financing thing?

    • Paul says:

      I guess that is the section that they were saying was “owned by NCCC”. I guess the dormitory authority owns all the state schools?

      • Paul says:

        No really compatible with Article 14 that says that “all” state owned land within the park is part of the Forest Preserve, Seems like the same issue they have with Camp Gabriels.

  13. Richard Mcdonald says:

    ATV’s, 4 wheelers (certain width) should be allowed as visitors will make use of the limited opportunity in N.Y.

    • Paul says:

      Here we go. I guess if they are going to run tracked groomers and snowmobiles why not?

      I’ll keep riding my bike on the road and take my chances with the guy texting while he is driving!

    • Ben says:

      I believe ATVs & UTVS are prohibited on State Land in the ADK.

      • Paul says:

        Yes, it could take a rule change.

        It is an interesting question though. I see ATV’s running on DEC administered roads in parts of the park and they are not ticketed.

        How is the “travel corridor” viewed by the DEC. Like I said above they don’t view it as Forest Preserve land – I don’t think?

    • Boreas says:

      I wouldn’t mind strict winter use. But they would likely destroy any non-paved trail surface.

  14. Mark Friden says:

    DON’T TAKE UP THE RAILS!!!!!!

  15. Paul says:

    Wait a minute – where is the “DEC releases draft railroad restoration plan” story for the other part of the “compromise”?

    Why does DEC only have funds to work on one aspect? Maybe that is coming tomorrow.

    • Boreas says:

      Paul,

      The compromise may involve different sources of funds for the trail section vs. the RR upgrades to the southern section. Perhaps DOT vs. DEC?? No idea, but it would involve different types of work and contracts.

      • Ben says:

        The railroad portion is contingent on finding a operator to take over managing the rail, so when the RFP goes out for that I’m sure we’ll all here about it. The two issues were never linked together to begin with. One is not dependent upon the other.

  16. Keith Gorgas says:

    Well, it seems the DEC is pretty confident that they will prevail in court. From what I can discern, there seems to be no contingency plan in the event the judge rules against them in Article 78 hearing. Some might say that this indicates that they feel their case is strong and secure. Knowing a little bit about the proceedings, that doesn’t seem to be the case, however. First of all, the attorney on the APA Board of Commissioners voted against it, on the grounds he didn’t think it was legal. Secondly, numerous Historic entities have filed statements that this plan ignores historic concerns. Thirdly, it seems pretty plain that the State does not own the underlying land in the ROW, and didn’t do its due diligence in preparing this plan. I believe also that evidence has been presented showing the State ignored overwhelming public opinion, and chose a vastly inferior economic and environmental course of action. I ask myself “why the confidence?” Several possibilities come to mind. Perhaps the economic influences extend past the Governor’s office and into the court system, but I doubt that. What I think is more likely is that ARTA is trying to generate excitement and fever, know the court is likely to find in favor of the railroad, with the hopes of inciting a strong backlash on the part of the Trail Only people. Just one man’s guess.

    • Ben says:

      Let’s see what will happen if the rail folks win. hmmm, option 6 comes back into play & you get a train as far as Big Moose. Since the state didn’t provide a lease for the northern end, you can kiss that away this year & I doubt you’ll ever see a train up north again. So in the end, you have no train in the north & you got less train track in the south than what you would have gotten with option 7.

    • Boreas says:

      Keith,

      I don’t know how much confidence it really shows. Should they delay all planning as long as the case is undecided? If tomorrow or 2 months from now there is a decision in the state’s favor and they have no plans, where does that put them? Then it would be argued the state didn’t have a detailed plan and the project would be held up even longer. If they have a detailed plan, at least they can start ironing out details IF there is a decision in their favor. Either way the decision goes, planning doesn’t hurt anything.

      Does it generate more public interest in the trail? Probably. But I don’t see ARTA being behind it. The state also wants the compromise.

      • Keith Gorgas says:

        Boreas,Your point about the need for planning is obviously correct, and I’ve (before having to be out of town) attended several of the meetings for “non-stakeholders”, hopefully providing positive input.. What I’m saying is that no alternative is in the planning for the possibility of the court deciding in favor of the RR, which seems like it’s at least a possibility. ARTA strongman Rich Shapiro has dismissed the RR’s suit as “frivolous” and a “red herring”. The public has donated over $112,000 towards the legal expenses of the lawsuit… hardly frivolous. Around 70,000 people have expressed pro Rail with Trail comments to the State. Clearly, there isn’t a clear mandate from the general population

    • Hope says:

      Richard Booth was not the APA attorney. He was the only nay vote.

  17. Dave W says:

    Now that the DEC has done this much work in prep for the public meetings in May, has anyone looked at the report in detail? If so, any comments their plans?

    • Boreas says:

      Dave,

      I downloaded it and gave it a cursory look over, but I don’t have the training or time to be able to critique the plans. Give it a look, it’s free!

      http://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/lands_forests_pdf/adkrailtrailplan42017.pdf

    • David P Lubic says:

      A poster named Big Burly apparently has, and had this to say in his comment above:

      (Start)

      There are significant challenges to getting a trail completed as this excerpt from the plan states … KEY ISSUES AND ISSUES TO BE RESOLVED:

      During the design phase a number of issues surfaced that will require resolution before installation of the trail. These include:

      · Assumed corridor reduction in the vicinity of Floodwood Pond and Paradise Lane. The narrowed ROW (approximately 30’ +/- at the narrowest) is partially steep slope and partially Paradise Lane. Cross access may need to be provided for private landowners on both sides of the ROW. · The entire corridor is eligible or listed and has contributing elements. DEC/DOT/SHPO have signed a Letter of Resolution (LOR) and any future modifications to the contributing elements need to be coordinated with SHPO before they can be undertaken. · DOT Salvage Yard at Tupper Lake may need to remain for several years. Its location will affect the current design of the trail (it occupies all available land on the north side of the active rail) and if it remains it is not available for snowmobile trailer parking as currently desired. · Coordination with the Lake Placid Historical Society regarding the termination of the trail and its amenities needs to continue, as they are landowners of the train depot parcel. · Property ownership and property boundaries need to be verified for parcels that appear to be privately owned along Paradise Lane and along Lake Clear that are directly adjacent to the corridor. The existence of any cross access easements needs to be researched. · Develop rules, signs, and methods to minimize conflicts between permanent and seasonal residents along Paradise Lane and along Lake Clear and trail users. · Minor structure encroachments along the length of the trail (fences) that could compromise the safety of trail users, particularly higher-speed snowmobiles. · Mapped wetlands appear to cross the ROW in certain areas. Formal wetland delineations will need to be performed in select areas to confirm the presence or non-presence of wetlands. · The proposed trail connections from the Fish Creek and Rollins Pond Campgrounds to the trail corridor will need additional study and mapping to determine the best accessible alignment with the least environmental impacts, as both the north and south connectors cross potential wetlands and traverse steep slopes. · The proposed fishing piers or platforms will likely require wetland permits at their proposed locations. · The Saranac Lake Train Station is under the jurisdiction of the NYSDOT and therefore any potential future development or redevelopment is dependent upon the approval of the NYSDOT. · A portion of the corridor is not controlled by the NYSDOT. It is owned by the Essex County, Franklin County, and North Country Community College. The DEC is working with the counties and the NCCC to obtain the necessary property interests to allow for public use of the trail. · The use of the ‘snowfields’ and the former sand pit off Will Rogers Drive as proposed snowmobile trailer parking needs to be coordinated by the local municipalities.

      The recent announcements about the renovation of Frontier Town, the investments in cross state trails along the Erie and in the Champlain Valley while all good things, will suck up a lot of money. The TRAC design done by volunteers with significant assist from DEC Region 5 personnel foresaw the issues noted above and for a lot less money than it will take to fix those described, could offer users except snowmobiles all that is described elsewhere in the proposed plan.

      (End)

      Of course, he is not talking about the whole document, and he, like me, is a rail supporter. You will want to look it over yourself to form your own opinion.

  18. Paul says:

    “Property ownership and property boundaries need to be verified for parcels that appear to be privately owned along Paradise Lane and along Lake Clear that are directly adjacent to the corridor. The existence of any cross access easements needs to be researched.”

    Researched? This is so simple just go look at the deed at the clerk’s office. Either it is there or it isn’t? Same goes for the property boundaries. “appear to be privately owned” what?

    • Boreas says:

      Why doesn’t any of this “research” have to be done to continue running a RR through the same area? “Cross easements” would seem to be a public safety issue in either scenario. Or do I misunderstand the term?

      Why wasn’t the Rail Explorer usage questioned? Public pedal contraptions certainly weren’t envisioned when the RR corridor was put through – at least not as a normal usage of a railroad. I can only assume because it didn’t yet interfere with anyone’s scenic RR.

      • David P Lubic says:

        Simple–as with the overall easement issue, the railroad is grandfathered in.

        And the rail bikes are rail vehicles, same as a speeder, high rail truck, or anything else.

        That’s another reason to keep the railroad around–if it’s still there, all these legal questions and the problems with them just go away.

        • Boreas says:

          That may be what they are considered now, but when the RR was put through, the idea was it was going to be used by trains. Just because something rides on the rails doesn’t mean it isn’t a new use of the corridor. Even riding a snowmobile on the tracks in winter is a use that was not envisioned when the RR was put through. If biking and walking are considered a new use of the corridor, I believe all activities other than standard train travel and maintenance should be re-examined to see if indeed they should be grandfathered.

          • David P Lubic says:

            You may not be too far off, in particular in regard to snowmobiles.

            The parallel is a case in which a railroad system decided to allow a fiber optic cable to be laid along its lines. Keep in mind this was for a common carrier communications company, not a communication line for the railroad’s own purposes, nor a communication subsidiary of a railroad, which is how Sprint actually started out (SPRINT–Southern Pacific Railroad Internal Network Telecommunications).

            This went to court, and was considered a “new use.” As a result, it was determined that the railroad had to pay the easement owners for this new use. The fellow who wrote about this in a rail forum, and who was one of the people who got easement money, said the settlement was for something like 90 cents per foot.

            This was for a railroad system with 36,000 route-miles–and there are 5,280 feet per mile.

            Even if a good part of the railroad was owned outright, there undoubtedly was a good bit of change distributed for those new easement payments.

      • Keith Gorgas says:

        Boreas, the existing easement, at least on the handful of deeds I’ve seen, is specific for rail use. Rail Explorers came under the FRA, and it was determined that they operated as a train. All employees in the ROW went through NORAC training and were subject to RR regulations,as they applied to them. I know others with more legal training than I have who contend that the ROW is limited to RR use. I don’t see it that way from my research, but what do I know? What i think I understand is that without a railroad, the Right of Way is lost, and that the State would need to go through a legal condemnation process to acquire the land via Eminent Domain and provide “just compensation” for it, or negotiate new easements with each land owner.

      • Paul says:

        I am just saying this is easy to figure out – for either use. Why don’t they just look at the deeds and answer this “open” question?

        As far as the rail bike question. I have no clue. To me it seems like any “contraption” riding on the rails would probably be compatible with the RR ROW usage as long as there isn’t a safety issue with a train running on the same tracks. But it doesn’t really matter they are gone anyway.

  19. Paul says:

    “AASHTO Guide Specifications”

    Says they will follow these guidelines for “bridge improvements”. I had to look this one up. Not a civil engineer but it seems to me impossible to do this w/o a huge expenditure. That is not addressed at all in their plant to improve these bridges for trail use, so they are not following these specs. They are just screwing the ties together and decking the bridges.

    • Keith Gorgas says:

      I’m not a civil engineer either but it was my major in college, and I graduated from the US Navy Seabees road building school. In addition to that, one the tracks are removed from the causeways, they will disintegrate unless there is major work done on them. It is the ties and rails that holds them together right now.

  20. Paul says:

    My question was really more about these guidelines. If they “improve” the bridge new connectors and decking they gotta follow these. It looks they require considerable other structural work on the bridges, none of that is in the plan (or the budget).

    On other rail trails have all the bridges collapsed? I have been on some they look fine.

  21. LeRoy Hogan says:

    I wish everyone from all sides would stop being greedy wanting the corridor just for themselves. If sharing actually happens then my NY State taxes won’t be wasted tearing up the rail that tourist trains and railbikes could be using.

    • Chip Ordway says:

      As an FYI, the railroad has taken the stance of “rail with trail” from day one. only the ARTA contingent has advocate for rail removal–from a few miles to the whole line–depending on where you read.

      Now let’s sit back and listen to the ARTA followers stubbornly repeat that “rails with trails CAN’T be done”.

      • Paul says:

        Chip,

        I am not an ARTA supporter. I actually prefer to see the RR remain in place.

        It can’t be done. It is just logistically impossible to do it in any practical way.

        • Chip Ordway says:

          Paul, with all due respect, there was a study done by professional people that said a trail which parallels the ROW *is* possible. It has been linked numerous times in this saga. The studies that say it *CAN’T* be done we’re studies which used data supplied in part by ARTA themselves, so of course it would be stating that it was impossible.

          The road the state built up the hill in Blue Mountain last year proves that anything can be done…..As long as you’ve got the funds to fuel it.

          • Bruce says:

            Chip,

            “Possible” is not the same as “practical,” or reasonable. The Camoin study laid out in very plain terms why having a trail in the same ROW as active tracks cannot be done in this case unless there are rule changes concerning Wilderness in the SLMP. That’s always “possible,” but not likely. In fact, is some areas, the ROW would have to be widened to accommodate both, and that is against the rules.

            The plan put forth by the trail WITH rail folks for skirting these areas with connectors is probably not cost-effective.

            You can call the Camoin study biased if you wish, but the facts laid out concerning Wilderness parts of the ROW are clear and undeniable.

            • Chip Ordway says:

              The words ‘cost effective’ would mean alot more if we were ever given a solid set of numbers regarding this trail, but we have not. Whatever financial scraps we have been handed by ARTA have been questionable at best, completely inaccurate at worst, and they can not be considered in this conversation. There have been and continue to be too many holes that have not been addressed.

              And remember….This is the same group that claimed this trail would bring half a million bucks into the area PER WEEK.

              Yeah, that was picked apart and debunked pretty quick.

      • Howard says:

        Don’t really care at this point if it can be done, the state has decided that IT CANNOT. It’ll either be a trail or a rail road that doesn’t get used anymore. It’s that simple.

        • Chip Ordway says:

          Is it Howard? Seems to me that part of the trackage in question was being used up to this very year.

          Yep. Real simple.

          • Howard says:

            Chip: This year is 2017! Other than the ASR which will run between Utica & Big Moose, NOTHING in the shape form or sound of a train will be running north of there this year! If you would re-read my comment (if you can read) you would see that my post was about a future context: Once the court decides, it’ll either be a trail that everyone can use, or a rail that no one will use, other than snowmobilers in the winter, when it becomes a little used snowmobile trail because of the rails!

            • Paul says:

              Seems to me that success of the RR at the southern end – where it actually goes somewhere interesting – is why a scenic RR that goes somewhere really interesting could be feasible. Feasibility to date has been based on two RR’s to nowhere. It looks like feasibility for the trail is based on trails that do not compare with this one. In the end I am not sure that anybody really knows. In my opinion not a good premise to tare up what is pretty much one of a kind infrastructure in the Adirondacks.

              • Bruce says:

                Paul,

                I know this may be speculation, but if the train stays on the Northern end, it seems likely it will eventually be connected to the Southern end by refurbishing the tracks to Tupper Lake, and if needed, to Saranac.

                Based on other scenic railroads around the country, more track means longer rides. Longer rides mean the ability to offer more interesting trains that require more riding time to do. More interesting trains mean more riders. The high ticket prices on the premier trains are not deterring train buffs. Actually, and I ride them, I’m surprised at what ridership there is now on the ADKRR, considering the dinky trains now offered..

                • James Falcsik says:

                  By removing the railroad asset, the opportunity to attract heritage rail vacation travelers to the Adirondacks is lost. It is not about the short trips or longer rides for locals. Here is an example of the market that could be attracted to the North Country if NYS would scrap this dirt-path trail plan and stop listening to those who continue to preach about a false trail economy:

                  https://www.vacationsbyrail.com/canada/rocky-mountaineer

            • Chip Ordway says:

              Yeah, you’re right. My reading skills must be lacking, because here I was thinking that I was reading a comment from someone who could carry on a conversation without rolling back the insults to a 2nd grade level. “If [I] can read”? Seriously, man?

              No need to reply. I probably couldn’t read it anyway.

        • LeRoy Hogan says:

          They are planning on sending astronauts to Mars and NY State can’t handle a rail with trail. Shaking head.

          I thought Rail Explorers was using the rail but left due to the threat of the rails getting torn up. http://www.adirondackdailyenterprise.com/news/local-news/2016/10/rail-explorers-to-end-adirondack-operations/

          • Paul says:

            Good point on mars. Both projects are extremely expensive. Like folks have commented above it isn’t being done because it is undo-able. That are lots of things that we can do that we don’t.

  22. Paul says:

    This is option 2 for how to deck a bridge:

    “Option 2 – a 4’ wide section of deck at centerline of trail oriented parallel to the trail
    for snowmobiles, flanked by two 6’ wide sections of deck oriented at 45 degrees to
    centerline for pedestrian and bicycle users.”

    Is there really 16′ to work with? Plus room for fencing?

  23. Big Burly says:

    @ Paul, NO, in a word

  24. kenny Friedel says:

    There is room for everyone on this Railroad. Nothing has to be torn up. I hope common sense take over here. The state has created this mess. If the people were allowed to clear the bush and trees on both sides of the track years ago, We would have had miles and miles of trails. Rail bikes are not new. They were used for track inspection since 1900. Don’t tell me it can’t be done. How did be build or fire dept. and Rescue squads. It is very hard to get good clear title to railroads. Be careful what you wish for. Our poor state is losing families left and right. How do families get out and walk 34 miles, So many have 2 or 3 jobs. A lot of my friends are heading for the nursing homes. A world class trail, What the heck it that?

  25. Todd Eastman says:

    Railroad folks are nuts…

  26. Bernard M Lobel says:

    Dear Senior Forester Steve Guglielmi,

    As a concerned citizzen tourist and nature lover, I strongly object to the current plan for the Rail Trail insofar as it requires the removal of the Railroad Tracks from to Lake Placid. This would destroy a priceless asset probably forever; it would be almost impossible to restore the tracks in the future. A trail without the tracks is inaccessible to many: the very old, the very young, the infirm, etc. Only a limited segment of the population could fully enjoy such a trail.

    Keeping the tracks intact can serve to improve future access to Lake Placid and also encourage outdoor activities the proposed trail is supposed to promote. The railway could bring more tourists and outdoor enthusiasts into the area; thereby stimulating the local economy far more than the horrible plan to remove the tracks.

    The railroad is a historic treasure, which should be preserved for future generations. In recent years, there have been very popular excursion trains on the railroad; this is far more accessible to a larger segment of the population, then if the tracks were to be destroyed.

    Should one day there be another Winter Olympics (or other major event) in the area, the railroad would be so useful in transporting people to enjoy the event; thereby providing a vital transportation alternative. The railroad was successfully used for this purpose in the 1980 Winter Olympics.

    Therefore, please use your influence to develop a new plan which keeps the railroad intact. A trail and other recreational actives can easily co-exist with a railway; this has been successfully undertaken in numerous other areas of the Country.

    Thank you for your consideration.

    Very Sincerely Yours

    Bernard Lobel
    239 East 79 Street
    New York, NY 10075

    • Ben says:

      You’ve must have been sleeping for the last 2-3 years. The decision has already been made, we just have to get rid of this pesky court case & then poof the rails are gone!

  27. Boreas says:

    The train is available to all – who can afford a ticket. Or will the fares be free?

    • LeRoy Hogan says:

      I say if you can’t afford a train ticket then hike the trail that can be built along side it for free. On another point, my wife who enjoyed hiking in the past now has lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Taking the train is her only option and I would hate to see that option torn up.

      • Boreas says:

        “Taking the train is her only option and I would hate to see that option torn up.”

        Again, only 34 miles is being torn up. The compromise allows for a LONGER ride from Utica to Tupper Lake. There is also the North Creek line. Why is this ignored?

        • Mark in Star Lake says:

          The news focus is on the Adirondack Scenic Railroad right now because there are no plans, at this time, to tear up any of the rails used by the Saratoga & North Creek Railway. It isn’t being ‘ignored’, it is just that there is an urgent focus on the ASR presently.

        • LeRoy Hogan says:

          We do vacation in Wilmington making Lake Placid closer to us to pick up a train ride. Why not have rail bikes if trains are being kicked out? Then you don’t have to pay for the removal and disposing of the construction debris. Be ironic if they dumped it all in the Catskills.

      • Mark in Star Lake says:

        “If you can’t afford a train ticket…” Really? Have you ever priced rail tickets from Lake Placid to Saranac Lake? Or from Thendara to Big Moose? If you can’t afford either, then there is no way you can afford car payments, let alone gasoline, at current prices.

        • Boreas says:

          Most of us can’t jump on the train at our front door – we have to drive to where the train is – correct? Why should I drive 100 miles to purchase a ticket to ride a train to see essentially the same scenery I saw driving to it?

          Don’t get me wrong – I enjoy trains. I have ridden many and still do. But I also enjoy riding a bike through a natural setting with no fear of being hit by a car or dealing with their noise. And I am not alone. I look forward to riding the Remson to TL section of the railroad, assuming this is ever sorted out.

          • Mark in Star Lake says:

            You made the point about “not being able to afford a train ticket.” I was only responding to your comment.

            Of course, if you think all Adirondack scenery is the same (reference your comment about “seeing the same thing from a train as you can from a car”), then why go any place else in the Adirondacks beyond what you see en route to Old Forge? I guarantee you there are sights from the trains you do not see elsewhere.

            Again, re: cost. Who said one had to go from Utica to Big Moose? The trains can be experienced in shorter excursions. Last autumn I went from Thendara to Big Moose on the Luncheon Train, and it was very economical – lunch at the Big Moose Station included.

            I don’t understand your other cost argument about $47 being “unrealistic”. Ever priced taking a family of 4 to an NHL game, MLB game, or NFL game? How about a weekend at DisneyWorld? A vacation is a vacation, and one does different, special and exciting things on vacation. Sure, $47 is expensive if you’re being told you have to pay it every day, but it can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. One kids will never forget!

            And further, your point about time makes no sense at all whatsoever! You don’t take the train so you can complain about how long it took to go from A to B! It is about the experience of riding on the rails – travelling as everyone used to, 100 years ago. It is historic, scenic, and FUN – not a viable way of travellign point to point. Remember, we are talking about railroads inside the Blue Line here, not Amtrak’s Eastern Corridor Acela trains.

            You demonstrate how little you know about the history of rail travel in the Adirondacks. The railroad operated during the 1980 OWG (Olympic Winter Games) in Lake Placid, but that was over 35 years ago. The rails have been deemed not safe to carry passengers between Big Moose and Tupper Lake, and no passengers have been carried over that section in decades.

  28. Richard says:

    The entire problem with the railroad is cost. I can drive my car from my home in Maryland to my camp in Old Forge & back to Maryland & do it for less than what a one way ticket from Utica to Big Moose Station cost. Plus after I get into Old Forge, I CAN DRIVE my car & go place the train doesn’t go now, in the past or in the future. I CAN SEE more of the Adirondacks from my car than from the train. It’s all economics, why take a train ride that is going to cost a family of 4 over $100, give limited service & only provide them at most 5 hrs in Old Forge, when they can drive their car & have a entire day of freedom.
    Keep arguing the court case & you’ll loose everything, it may just take a few more years.

    • Mark in Star Lake says:

      I’m sorry, sir, but your argument doesn’t hold water.

      Driving from your home in Maryland to Old Forge has nothing to do with the cost of a train ticket from Utica to Big Moose. One has nothing to do with the other (I, for one, have no interest in seeing your home in Maryland, as nice as I am sure it is).

      As far as seeing more of the Adirondacks from your car, vis-a-vis the train, this, too, is also a meritless concept. I can see more of New York City from the top of the Empire State Building than from the ground, so why should I also pay for a city tour, or spend multiple days (plus nights in a hotel) seeing the city?

      The trains are historically relevant, of high interest to many, are educational for children, provide views one can’t see any place else, and (most importantly) can’t be built again, ever, anywhere inside the Blue Line. There are museums in the depots in Lake Placid and Saranac Lake, and a new depot just built in Tupper Lake. This points to a LOT of interest among the public – and many thousands of dollars and hours donated.

      We have trails now. We will always have trails. But we have very few railroads, and once they’re gone, that’s it.

      • Boreas says:

        “But we have very few railroads, and once they’re gone, that’s it.”

        The RR isn’t going away. So why keep bringing that up? It will now be a complete line from Utica to Tupper Lake – longer than the 34 mile section in question, and will be contiguous from Utica. But that just isn’t good enough. There was more historical usage on that section than the newst section added to LP. An issue no one really mentions is that the final Lake Placid segment isn’t nearly as historical since it was added on years later – not part of the original RR line. Many felt it failed to offer much help during the ’80 Olympics transportation issues.

        WRT the museums, I am curious if they have more visitors from train ridership or from automobile users. Museums can be accessed by anyone – even someone walking a trail or riding a bike. The history doesn’t go away – it becomes history.

        • Mark in Star Lake says:

          I am afraid you are uninformed. The railroad IS going away, from Lake Placid to Saranac Lake. And with that, the plan to expand passenger service from Saranac Lake to Tupper Lake. Why do you think all of us who donated to the new Tupper Lake Train Station did so?

          Please read up on the issue before making uninformed comments.

          • Boreas says:

            Mark,

            “Uninformed”?? I believe you are the one misinformed. 34 miles of track does NOT constitute a “railroad”. It is but a small section of the railroad in question. There are no plans to “tear up” any other part of the line! So I stand by my statement – the railroad is NOT going away – only the last 34 miles of track. You can say it all you want, but it simply isn’t true.

            Much can be done with the Utica to Tupper L. portion with the compromise. Why ignore that section? I believe your investment in the TL station was a wise one. A terminus for both a RR line and a recreation trail – a great opportunity for TL!!

            • Richard says:

              And Mark, I’ll stand by what I said above, it is a cost factor for a lot of people. As I said I can drive my car to/from Maryland-Old Forge on less cost in gas than 1 adult ticket on the ASR. As far as the scenery, I can see just as much of the Adirondacks driving my car up Rt 28. Plus when I get to Old Forge with my car I have the freedom to go place the train has never gone: The Great Camp Sagamore, Raquette Lake, Long Lake, The Adirondack Experience, The Wild Center in Tupper Lake, plus many other places. Where can I go on the train once I get to Old Forge, oh thats right NO WHERE!
              And I WOULD’T want you to come to my home in Maryland either. That’s not the point! It’s a cost factor, $47 bucks for a one way ticket from Utica to Old Forge for a adult is unrealistic. For a family of 4, that’s cost of over $100 for a one way trip. Why pay that much for a trip that takes over 2 hrs, when I can drive it in around 1hr from Utica.
              The train has it’s place in the tourism for the ADK, it’s just not all the way to Lake Placid anymore. Once the trail is being built, ya still got to get the state to put a RFP in place to find someone to manage/rehab the rails to Tupper Lake & then manage the line. I doubt you’ll find anyone to do that. Should the rail folks win the court case, you may not get anything more than what you have right now. The State has no reason to go forward at that point with any more rehabing of a rial line.

            • Mark in Star Lake says:

              If “34 miles does not constitute a railroad”, may I suggest you educate yourself with a trip to “The Adirondack Experience – The Museum on Blue Mountain Lake” and learn all about the Marion River Carry Railroad.

              • Richard says:

                Hey Mark, I HAVE TO DRIVE to the Adirondack Experience, the train doesn’t go there! Guess I really don’t need a train or train tracks to learn about a railroad.

                • Mark in Star Lake says:

                  Well, if you still firmly believe that “34 miles does not constitute a railroad, and are unwilling to educate yourself about Adirondack railroads with sarcastic comments about where they can or cannot take you, I give up (on you). The Adirondack Experience – The Museum on Blue Mountain Lake can teach you a lot about Adirondacks Railroads, no matter how you get there. Since you can also walk to the Museum, I guess you really don’t even need a car.

                  • Richard says:

                    Yep, it can teach me all about Railroads, therefore I don’t need to go ride one.
                    And when I’m done learning ab out the railroads at the Adirondack Experience, I can hop in my car & go to the Great Camp Sagamore, or to Raquette Lake, or to the Wild Center in Tupper Lake & I CAN SEE MORE of the Adirondacks than I can from a train.

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