Thursday, March 8, 2018

Public Comments Sought On Rail Corridor Amendment

APA Building in Ray Brook NYThe New York State Adirondack Park Agency (APA) has proposed an amendment to the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (APSLMP) changing the Travel Corridors classification category definition, the guidelines for management and use, and amendments of related provisions. The APA will accept public comment until May 7, 2018. Three public hearing sessions will be held on April 11, 24 and 25, 2018.

What follows is an announcement sent to the press by the APA, Phil Brown has much more of the story here.

The purpose of the APSLMP amendment is to define a railroad corridor as the lands that include a railbed for the Remsen-Lake Placid Travel Corridor and any future acquisition that may be considered for classification as a travel corridor, existing either (1) for the operation of rail cars or (2) to serve as a rail trail. The proposed revisions to the guidelines for management and use could apply to other railroad corridors, acquired by the State after classification of the corridor as a Travel Corridor.

The Agency prepared a Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (DSEIS) for this proposed action to amend the APSLMP. It was accepted by the Agency Board on March 8, 2018. The Agency’s preferred alternative would allow for (1) railroad operation on the corridor and/or (2) conversion of any portion of the railroad corridor determined appropriate for a rail trail, pursuant to an approved Unit Management Plan. This alternative would also allow for a rail with trail if the corridor and surrounding lands have the capacity to support that use.

APA Chairman Sherman Craig said, “The Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan is an extraordinary document approved by the New York State Legislature in 1972. The Master Plan protects the natural resources of the Adirondack Park while balancing public access and recreational use. At this time, we invite public comment to consider an amendment that addresses the diverse recreational interests regarding the use of the Remsen-Lake Placid Travel Corridor. We encourage all stakeholders to comment on the proposed alternatives.”

“DEC is pleased to work with the Adirondack Park Agency on a clarifying amendment to the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan to ensure that DEC can manage portions of railroad corridors for travel and recreational uses, including snowmobiling, cross country skiing, biking and walking, said New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos. This proposed definition change, if adopted, will enable DEC to convert the segment of the Remsen-Lake Placid Travel Corridor between Tupper Lake and Lake Placid to a rail trail.”

Following an extended planning process, the opportunity was identified to diversify recreational experiences within Travel Corridors by redeveloping a segment of the Remsen-Lake Placid Travel Corridor or any newly acquired rail corridors with existing rails into rail trails. Use of portions of the Remsen-Lake Placid Corridor for travel and recreational uses, including rail and snowmobiling, has existed since the corridor was classified. However, the lack of clarity within the definition and guidelines for management and use, specifically for the Remsen-Lake Placid Corridor, prevented the removal of any segment of the rails.

Both rail and rail trail uses can contribute to recreational opportunities in the Park, while simultaneously increasing appreciation of the unparalleled landscape quality of the Adirondack Mountain region and enhancing the personal health and well-being of visitors and Park residents. The proposed amendment includes guidance to ensure that the physical, biological, scenic and open space resources of the corridor and its adjacent lands are protected.

At its March 2018 Board meeting, the Agency Board authorized staff to hold public hearings on the DSEIS and the proposed amendments to the APSLMP. Hearings will be held both inside and outside the Park at the following locations:

April 11, 2018
7 pm
Adirondack Park Agency
1133 NYS Route 86
Ray Brook, NY

This meeting will be broadcast live via the Agency’s webcast system. Please use apa.ny.gov to connect.

April 24, 2018
7 pm
The View
3273 NYS Route 28
Old Forge, NY

April 25, 2018
11 am
NYS DEC Offices
625 Broadway
Albany, NY

The area subject to this amendment includes approximately 1,078 miles of State and Interstate Highways, the 119-mile Remsen-Lake Placid Travel Corridor and any future acquisition of railroad corridors with existing rails.

Primarily, the definitional changes and revisions to the guidelines for management and use and related provisions correspond to potential rail and rail trail use in the Adirondack Park. The Agency proposed six alternatives, including the preferred alternative.

The public will have an opportunity to comment at the public hearings and to submit written comments throughout the comment period. APA staff will consider all timely received comments on the proposed alternatives and may incorporate those comments into a Final Supplemental Impact Environmental Statement (FSEIS). The FSEIS will include a written response to public comments and a staff recommendation for a preferred alternative.

The FSEIS will be brought to the Agency Board after the close of the public comment period. The Agency Board will then decide whether to accept the FSEIS and whether to recommend the APSLMP amendments to the Governor. If the APSLMP amendments are authorized by the Agency, a Board Resolution recommending an alternative will be forwarded to Governor Cuomo for final approval.

The APSLMP states that planning is an on-going process and, as public use of the State lands expands or changes, land use controls may require reanalysis. Protection and preservation of the natural resources of the State lands within the Park must be paramount. Human use and enjoyment of those lands should be permitted and encouraged, so long as the resources in their physical and biological context, as well as their social or psychological aspects, are not degraded.

For more information or to download the DSEIS regarding the proposed amendment to the APSLMP visit the Agency’s website.

Address all written comments to:

Kathy Regan
Deputy Director for Planning
NYS Adirondack Park Agency
P.O. Box 99
Ray Brook, NY 12977

Fax: 518-891-3938
Email – SLMP_Comments@apa.ny.gov

Submit all written comments to the APA by May 7, 2018.

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16 Responses

  1. Robert Schramek says:

    Please, at the very least…pull up the rails from Tupper to Lake Placid. Then we can respectfully ride snowmobiles to LP with marginal snow depths. Running a train doesn’t seem like a profitable endeavor, enough to make the investment of upgrading the rails and maintaining the train. The new trail would surely be used by many more than would use the train. Thank you.

    • Jim S. says:

      I prefer the idea of a rail trail from North Creek to Tahawus. I think the benefit from a bike trail would have a much bigger impact on that area than it would running from Tupper to Placid.

      • Hope says:

        I’d prefer a trail from Tupper to Old Forge myself. Make for a great bikepacking trip. I’m not a snowmobilers but I see the attraction of getting more regions connected in the winter via snowmobile. The corridor is a major connector of the west and eastern Adirondack regions for recreation. Tupper to Lake Placid though would get the most use year around and affect the quality of life for locals. It’s not just all about tourism.

  2. Paul says:

    How does this work? You can just change the definition of a “travel corridor” to anything that you want? I thought that these lands had special protections. Wasn’t this originally done to preserve the RR? Now we want to use it to preserve a bike/snowmobile trail before it is built? Shouldn’t environmental groups be saying here that if we pull these rails we want no more snowmobiles cutting through places like the Whitney Wilderness? This whole thing is very strange.

    • Hope says:

      Any changes/clarifications to the ASLMP are recommended by staff to Commissioners (which just happened) and they (Commissioners) vote on whether or not to move forward with public hearings (they did) and now those hearings are scheduled. They have not voted to accept the changes yet.
      This is the same thing that was done to clarify and change boathouse regs, establish hunting camp restrictions, shoreline setback requirements, etc.

      • Paul says:

        Hope, Thanks, no I get that part.

        The things you mention in the last sentence have nothing to do with the ASLMP (state land issues). They are/were all private property zoning issues and changes to the APA act. Ones that think I think should involve legislative approval. The APA has far too much power when it comes to decision like those.

        My point on the suggested changes here are about what jurisdiction does the agency have to make this particular change? Didn’t this “travel corridor” come about specifically for a RR not simply for any kind of activity we want to gin up? Here we are simply saying that now we will allow biking on a bike trail on the corridor. Can we say we will change it later to allow ATV’s? I am not sure just anything is going to be legit given the history of the corridor.

  3. Boreas says:

    If their intention is to remove the rails on certain corridors, then I would prefer they change the language from “rail trail” to “multipurpose” or “recreational trail” to avoid confusion in the future. But perhaps they can’t with it being in a “travel corridor”?? I guess it is for the lawyers to hash it out.

  4. Bob Kibbey says:

    I’m a little confused here. Does APA’s right hand know what it’s left hand is doing? I thought that a section of this 119 mi rail ; between Tupper an Saranac was
    OK’d and designed. I saw the architects rendering. Then there was a hold on starting
    it because someone claimed to own a section of it and now it’s in litigation. We can’t
    even get one thing done and now we’re talking about SL to LP, and NC to Tahawus.
    Get real, people. I’m 75 and would like to use these great things being proposed
    in the Adk., but will be too old by the time they become a reality. Give me the simpler times.

  5. Paul says:

    Wasn’t part of the grand compromise refurbishment of the RR from Tupper to the south end? Why is the state only spending $ (studies etc.) on the rail trail part of the deal? If I was a train enthusiast I would be wondering what the deal is. There is no legal issue holding up that part.

    • Ben says:

      It’s quite simple. The updated UMP calls for the state to sign a agreement with a Rail company to take over long term maintenance/running of the rail line south of Tupper Lake to Utica. Until that happens no money will be spent to do anything on that part of the rails, other than upkeep on what the ASR already runs on.

      • Paul says:

        Interesting.

        So in this deal the one section has to be maintained by a private entity (will the restoration be paid with state funds like the trail planning/construction?) but the trail section will be maintained (and constructed) with taxpayer funds?

        • ben says:

          you didn’t read the updated UMP. The state is still going to put taxpayer money into rehabbing the rail line to Tupper Lake, but only after a company is found to manage/help maintain it.

  6. JohnL says:

    Yada yada yada. Does this general discussion ever end?

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