Friday, December 14, 2018

Rail Trail Corridor Definition Change Headed To Governor

APA Building in Ray Brook NYThe New York State Adirondack Park Agency has recommended approval for an amendment to the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (APSLMP) to change the Travel Corridors classification category definition, the guidelines for management and use, and amendments of related provisions. The Agency’s recommendation will move to Governor Andrew Cuomo for his approval.

The Agency issued the following news release Friday afternoon. You can read more about the rail trail controversy here at the Adirondack Almanack:

The Agency’s recommendation allows rail and rail trail use in the Remsen-Lake Placid Travel Corridor and future State-owned railroad corridors with existing rails. This revision allows, but does not require, the rails to be removed from any section of a railroad corridor, including the Remsen-Lake Placid Travel Corridor, upon adoption of a Unit Management Plan. The APSLMP will continue to allow for development of a trail parallel to the existing railroad if the corridor and surrounding lands have the capacity to support that use. The Agency’s recommendation will be forwarded to Governor Andrew Cuomo for his final determination.

APA Acting Chair Karen Feldman said, “After carefully consideration of a substantial record including impressive and informative public comment, the Agency Board will forward a recommendation to Governor Cuomo to amend the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan. These revisions will maximize public recreational opportunities, broaden economic impact and ensure that the protection of the Park’s unique natural and historic resources will remain paramount. We thank our colleagues at the Department of Environmental Conservation, the Department of Transportation and the Office of Parks and Historic Preservation for their consultation, and eagerly look forward to working on the future unit management plan.”

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “Governor Cuomo understands the power of the Adirondack Park to draw millions of outdoor enthusiasts from around the world to New York to experience its unrivaled natural beauty. The proposed revisions to the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan will allow DEC to improve and enhance these critical travel corridors to accommodate and support increased recreational use that will boost regional economies in a manner that is protective of this precious natural resource. DEC was proud to partner with the Adirondack Park Agency and involved stakeholders on these improvements that strike the delicate balance to responsibly and sustainably promote and protect New York’s magnificent North Country.”

The amendment defines 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 and/or (2) to serve as a rail trail. This revision to the guidelines for management and use applies to other railroad corridors with rails, acquired by the State, following classification as a Travel Corridor.

The Agency’s Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (DSEIS) for this APSLMP amendment action was accepted by the Agency Board on March 8, 2018. The Agency held public hearings in Ray Brook, Old Forge, and Albany. Over 100 people attended the hearings. The Agency also accepted written public comment until May 2018 during which time nearly 600 comments were submitted. These comments were carefully considered and responses were included in the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (FSEIS), completed in December 2018.

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. In addition, the recreational opportunities enhance the personal health and well-being of visitors and Park residents. The recommended amendment includes guidance to ensure that the physical, biological, scenic and open space resources of Travel Corridors and their adjacent lands are protected.

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 classified as a travel corridor.

Primarily, the definitional changes and revisions to the guidelines for management and use and related provisions correspond to rail and rail trail uses in the Adirondack Park. These proposals provide elaboration and clarification of the guidelines applicable to railroad corridors to reflect evolving demands and uses including recreation and commuting.

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.

The mission of the Adirondack Park Agency is to protect the public and private resources of the Adirondack Park through the exercise of the powers and duties of the Agency as provided by law. For more information, call the APA at (518) 891-4050 or visit their website.

Photo of APA building in Ray Brook.

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85 Responses

  1. Paul says:

    Does the state have good title to all the land where the tracks are located? Are the only disputed parcels the several mentioned in previous articles (NCCC and Village of SL)?

  2. Jim S. says:

    Does anyone think this will put an end to this controversy?

    • ben says:

      Hell no. I expect it to be back in court here real soon. The rail folks just won’t let it die.

      • Larry Roth says:

        Not just the rail folks. Everyone who thinks this is bad economics and bad environmentally. Everyone who thinks this is an end run around proper planning and policy debate. Everyone who thinks this is a dereliction of the APA’s duty to serve as an independent body and not an arm of the governor’s office. Everyone who sees this as another breach of the state’s historic preservation laws.

        And everyone who is still waiting for the state to get serious about climate change.

        • Scott says:

          Bad environmentally ? Creosote plus broadcast herbicide versus no creosote and no broadcast herbicide….for a hundred miles.

          • Daniel Bogdan says:

            Well, asphalt (used in road pavement construction) is quite a toxic substance, but like creosote is contained in a specific area with limited leeching into the environment. We can safely live with both. If you have a problem with creosote then you’ll have a problem with asphalt.
            Herbicides used on the railroad (and also on roadways) are approved by the DEC and the APA. If you have any issues with the herbicides please contact these agencies. Herbicides and pesticides will have to be used on the proposed trail anyway, unless trail users want to bushwhack and cover themselves with DEET.

            • Boreas says:

              Daniel,

              Where are pesticides used on trails in the Forest Preserve?? People here have DEET in their blood by necessity. As far as herbicides are concerned, most recreational trails of this type that I have visited are simply mowed with occasional brush removal where necessary. And the last I knew, the proposed trail is not to be made of asphalt, but crushed stone and stone dust.

            • Scott says:

              Please do not suggest paving hiking or biking trails or paving a rail trail in the Adirondack back country. Paved roadways are bad enough.

              • Larry Roth says:

                If you go back to the 2016 plans for the trail, paving was one of the options listed for a surface, either whole or in part. Some of the ‘multiple uses’ listed to sell the trail to the public would only be practical with some kind of paving.

                After the APA approved the 2016 plan, paving was no longer mentioned – it was all supposed to be crushed stone. Funny how that works.

                Among other things, that rules out skinny tire bikes and conventional wheel chairs, strollers, skate boards, roller blades, etc. that don’t have wheels wide enough to work on crushed stone.

                As far as paving trails goes, in some places they have to do that because otherwise the terrain can’t stand the traffic. Trail conditions in the high peaks and other heavy use areas show how bad it can get. If the region is going to maximize trail recreation, some kind of surface hardening will have to be an option sooner or later – that or limiting trail use.

                • Steve Bailey says:

                  Paving s the ultimate method to harden the surface so as to prevent erosion, which leads to maintanence expenses. I don’t think the LP to Tupper rail-trail was intended to be paved, as I think it was also intended for x-country skiing.

                • Boreas says:

                  Larry,

                  A crushed stone+stone dust surface will certainly allow wheelchairs, strollers, and virtually any bike as long as it is prepared properly. I rode my 10- speed (1 1/4″ tires) on the Old Erie Canal Towpath for decades accumulating well over 3000 miles, passing wheelchairs and strollers aplenty. I had to steer around an occasional puddle or mudhole, but otherwise, I rode 12-16 mph depending on wind direction. If I came to an area with ONLY crushed stone, I got off and walked. It is the stone dust applied with a roller OVER the crushed stone that makes the surface very hard. I won’t suggest it is as good or efficient as blacktop, but I did see the occasional roller-blader. Skate-boards weren’t back in fashion back then, but typically they aren’t going to be attracted to a long, straight surface anyway.

                  No one is calling the proposed trail an “ALL-purpose” trail, but biking, walking, running, skiing, and snowmobiling alone would certainly put it in the multi-purpose category.

                  However I will concede that traffic during spring mud season may be limited to foot traffic until the bed is thawed and the surface dries out sufficiently. And I expect some areas close to the villages will be black-topped to handle the higher numbers likely in those areas.

                  If you look at the picture on the ADE website, I believe that shows a well- manicured stone+dust trail. They aren’t perfect, but overall, not quite as limiting as you suggest.

                  • Larry Roth says:

                    Oh it can be done – but it takes attention to keep it in top shape, and we all know how well the state does at taking care of things after the ribbon-cutting and the photo ops are done.

                    But my point is that there was a lot more talk about having a paved trail and all the things that go with it in the rush to get the trail approved. After that happened, the cost suddenly became the prime consideration. But it will still be a “world-class trail” – because they always are.

                    Having a world-class railroad or rail with trail never seems to be on the table. Not in this state anyway.

                    • Boreas says:

                      Larry,

                      At least verbiage in the recommendation includes a rail+trail option which was not there before, eliminating another possible legal battle if, in the unlikely event the state chooses to implement any side-by side areas in this and potentially future corridors.

  3. Larry Roth says:

    As opposed to road salt and greenhouse gases from the highways? Particulates from disel trucks? Noise and fumes from snowmobiles? Get real. That’s what you’re committing to, now and forever if you pull the tracks.

    And you can stop with the creosote/herbicide scare mongering. There are alternatives now that could already be in use if the state chose to make a real investment in the corridor.

  4. Scott Thompson says:

    Time to write, call, text. Especially the Governor. Contact Cuomo.

  5. Scott Thompson says:

    Dear Trail Supporters,
    The elections are over and it is once again time to make our voices heard and continue the initiative to build the Adirondack Rail Trail. While the 2016 proposal to create the trail 34 miles from Tupper Lake to Lake Placid could have been a good start, it has become a waste of time; the economy needs this trail from Old Forge to Lake Placid. Writing, calling and directed social media are our best avenues to success. We need individual and innovative arguments to move this foreword. Here a number of points to be considered:
    -Adirondack Scenic Railroad has operated sections of railroad with some successes from Utica to Holland Patent and Remsen which is not included in the Remsen/ Lake Placid Corridor yet the passenger numbers are included in their claimed ( unverified ) numbers.*According to their revenue numbers, this accounts for the lion’s share of their revenue.
    -The corridor is only used by ASR less than 60 days a year. Snowmobiling as much as 90, over 120 if there were not rails. Bicycle days are unknown, but over 180 days would be available as a trail. Trail use whenever anyone wants, or rail use only as the operator schedules.
    -ASR claims there riders are in the region because of the train. Arguably, they ride for an activity once they are in the area for VERY little economic impact.
    -Snowmobiling has grown in economic impact since it began around 1960. Registrations ,the Club system and trail permits have paid for an unparalleled increase in winter hospitality , service and real estate sales. Bicycle trails consistently have the same effect.
    -Short rides can be scenic and entertaining, but as a full length operation the ASR would be providing transportation and that requires constant and consistent ancillary transportations in order for passengers to arrive at final destinations and service must be frequent or no one would ride.
    -Historic preservation? Rails and Ties are mundane and they need so much renovation they would be a reproduction NOT a preservation. Stations and structures would remain and could be valuable year-round assets.
    -Trail work on the corridor with year-round access can and would be done in the way it IS done for snowmobiles and groomers, but leaving the corridor to the ravages of nature is a “self fulfilling prophecy ” for the Rail supporters who are not getting the work done. DOT and ASR deny access to common machinery and trail workers.
    – Recognizing the importance of the snowmobile use of the corridor, in the past few days the DOT has let “emergency” no bid contracts to repair washouts with an estimated 800 yards of fill and new culverts. Expense that should have been avoided had well known threats from plugged culverts been cleaned before disaster.
    -Environment and efficiency: In passenger mile studies Rail is the most efficient where there is high volume. The train requires 80-100 passengers to eclipse the efficiency of private transportation and this does not take into account the Demand Response transportation ( Taxi, Uber, Private Municipal bus and such which are the LEAST efficient means per mile).www.afdc.energy.gov
    Please find the attached contact list and help pursue the Great “Adirondack Rail Tail”.
    Thank you.
    • Governor Andrew Cuomo, NYS Capitol, Albany, NY 12224
    • Paul Karas, Commissioner, NYSDOT, 50 Wolf Road, Albany NY 12232 , Paul.Karas@dot.ny.gov
    • Basil Seggos, Acting Commissioner, NYSDEC, 625 Broadway, Albany NY 12233
    • Clyde Rabideau, Mayor, Saranac Lake, 39 Main Street, Suite 9, Saranac Lake, NY 12983
    • Oneida County Board of Legislators, 800 Park Ave.#1 Utica, NY 13501
    • Robert Moore, Supervisor, Town of Webb, Tourist Information Bldg., Rt. 28 Old Forge NY 13420
    • Adirondack Express, box 659, 2942 St. Rt. 28, Old Forge, NY 13420
    • Adirondack Daily Enterprise, 54 Broadway, Saranac Lake, 12983
    Senator James Tedisco, 223 W.Main St, Room B2, Johnstown
    Senator Betty Little, 5 Warren Street, Glens Falls, NY 12801

    • Lakechamplain says:

      Thank you Scott for your prescient analysis of many issues involved here. That said, put on your flak jacket because you are going to be shredded by the core of dedicated, but in my opinion, misguided defenders of the scenic railroad.

      Essentially, Adirondack Almanac could save any number of people a lot of time by going back and reviewing what is now several years of debates waged on this site by defenders of the railroad and proponents of the rail trail. Same old, same old.

      My posts have been a tiny part of those posts over the years but I’ll probably come back again and cite reasons why I believe that the rail trail is in the end the best use for the most people, both residents and visitors, of this pretty unique part of the heart of the Adirondacks.

      I’m getting old but I still am holding out hope that I will be able to bike parts of or the entire route between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake before I am physically unable to. Hope springs eternal.

      • Boreas says:

        Right there with you! When the debate started, I could easily have biked between LP & SL. By the time anything is built – if ever – I will likely need to be pushed, or my ashes scattered alongside the trail.

    • Larry Roth says:

      Mr Thompson has made an impassioned plea for the trail, but perhaps he has allowed his own interests to color it just a bit. He fails to mention he operates a business he expects to directly profit from the trail if it is built. I will give him credit for at least being honest enough to admit he wants the tracks gone all the way down to Old Forge – no compromise for him! (BTW – good luck trying to get permission to run snowmobiles through wilderness areas once the tracks are gone.)

      Let’s unpack the rest of his remarks.

      Let’s talk about the amount of time the Adirondack Scenic Railroad runs trains on the line. The seasonal operation is limited by the state and the current condition of the line. A fully restored line with year-round service would be able to offer patrons access to all the winter recreation opportunities in the Olympic Region and elsewhere on the corridor – without having to worry about driving conditions to get there. As it is, the ASR is very busy right now on the southern end with the Polar Express.

      Given the resources, the railroad could operate year round regardless of the weather – snowmobiles can only run when and where the snow falls. And, as people are finding harder to ignore, that’s becoming increasingly erratic and is not going to improve.

      Bicycle days, hiking? Again, weather can be a factor – especially in the less accessible stretches of the corridor. In any case, claims about their numbers are only guesses – unlike the railroad which can cite actual tickets sales. Those ticket sales help pay for keeping the line open, revenue a trail will never have.

      Speaking of which… Mr Thompson makes much of the emergency need for the state to repair washouts so snowmobilers can run in the corridor, and implies the ASR failed to do proper maintenance. What Mr. Thompson may not understand is that rails or not, the corridor will still need regular work like that. It’s a consequence of where the corridor runs and how it was built; that kind of work was assumed from day one as part of running a railroad through woods and wetlands.

      No one would build a trail through some of the places where the rail corridor has to run if they had a choice – and beavers don’t care if trains or snowmobiles are using it. They are always out there doing what they do. It should be noted that neither the state nor the snowmobile community have done that great job keeping the 34 miles of the line between Tupper and LP intact since the ASR was forced to move out.

      As it is, class 1 railroads have to deal with this kind of stuff too – and highways have been known to also have issues. Stuff happens. It’s going to get worse. Extreme weather events are becoming more common. Having more than one way to get people and goods in and out of the Adirondacks would be a smart investment for the future.

      As far as Mr. Thompson’s observations about historic preservation go, let’s just say it would be a surprise if any actual preservationists agreed with him and his assertions.

      Mr. Thompson claims no one comes to the tri-lakes to ride the trains – and he knows that how? As it happens, thousands of people came specifically to ride the rail bikes before the state drove them out. (The Rail Explorers had a good season this year in the Catskills, by the way.)

      If the state invested in restoring the entire corridor to what it should be, people wouldn’t just come to Lake Placid to ride the trains – people would ride the trains to get to Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, and all the other stops on the corridor. Dinner trains and other services would become possible. (People would ride the trains just for that.) Let’s not forget the Amtrak connection.

      Mr. Thompson touts the impact snowmobiling has made on the region since the 1960s. What he fails to bring up is the decline in numbers in recent years and how the demographics are changing. If snowmobiling is the economic engine that drives the region, why are towns still in decline? Where are the good jobs that keep young people in the region? It’s hard to see how adding 34 miles or more of trail in a region already equipped with hundreds of miles of trails is going to turn that around. The state continues to add trail miles for snowmobiles – but the point of diminishing returns has set in.

      Rail trails are a twentieth century ‘fix’ that no longer applies to the problems of the 21st century. The population is aging. People want other travel choices than having to drive everywhere all the time. Climate change is happening now; the effects are starting to really hit hard. We need to get serious about green house gas emissions, and we need to start building the infrastructure we need to adapt to the changes that are coming. This is exactly the wrong time to start limiting our transportation options – especially the greener ones.

      If we are going to have an Adirondacks able to meet the challenges of this century, rails are going to have to be part of mix. You don’t have to go very far to see others are taking a very different approach.

      Massachusetts and Connecticutt are investing in their rail systems. They are adding track, upgrading lines to expand both freight and passenger service, reviving old rail corridors – and are doing compatible trail development too. They are even exploring seasonal train service from New York City to bring people up to the Berkshires and all the attractions there – look up “the Berkshire Flyer.” They are seeing economic development all along their rail corridors where this is being done.

      For some further hard numbers and facts, I would direct readers to the October 18, 2018 statement from ASR Board President Bill Branson in the Adirondack Almanack.

      https://www.adirondackalmanack.com/2018/10/rr-board-president-responds-to-rail-trail-issues.html

      • ben says:

        your pathetic little rail line is not profitable; you failed to meet your 1/3 obligation of cost for the Town of Webb Shuttle service this year, forcing the town to halt it Labor Day weekend. The you nitwits had the gall to go to the town & ask them to pay for your fall bus service. Your polar express runs mostly go to Holland Patent & never go near the corridor. Please continue to sue; maybe in the end the State will put you out to pasture & NOT renew your lease. You run because the state says you can, continue to be an ass to the State & that can end with the stroke of a pen! And the trail community won’t shed a tear if that EVER happens!

      • Hope says:

        Gee whiz Larry. Why is it so bad that a businessman who has a business that is directly affected by what happens on the corridor be permitted to support the conversion of the corridor to a trail? Especially one who has actually worked for the railroad at one point in his life and comes from a railroading family. Maybe we should be actually listening to these folks. There are plenty of other businesses up and down the corridor that will benefit from the trail or pretty much go out of business without. Your only concern is getting people to Lake Placid the rest of the communities are just whistle stops and don’t matter. The environment will be just fine without those diesel or coal smoke belching engines going through the wilderness. Electric buses will be plying the same roads along with the rest of us to get where we need to go. Merry Christmas!

        • Larry Roth says:

          Hope – Why is it you never admit there are plenty of businesses in the region that stand to benefit from the railroad? Why do you think it’s only about Lake Placid? Ask the people at the Hotel Saranac if they like to be able to offer hotel packages to train riders. Ask the people who have shops and restaurants around the stations if they’d like the foot traffic that comes from having trains running again.

          Lake Placid is the big attraction on the end of the line – it’s an internationally famous destination. Not running trains to it would be incredibly short-sighted. Service to Lake Placid would serve to expose people to the rest of the corridor – everyone would benefit.

          Please stop distorting my statements – it’s the whole corridor that stands to benefit, and there is plenty of support all along the corridor. Maybe you should listen to them – and all the people outside that area too who want to be able to visit without having to drive all the way, people who would be able to take a train from anywhere Amtak serves and go right to the heart of the Adirondacks and all the points along the way.

          And please don’t offer up electric buses as a red herring, not when trail advocates have tried to argue that people need to be able to bike to work – because local bus service is so bad.

          Electric buses would actually benefit from having rail service to the area – the trains would bring people who would be looking for a way to get around. Not having to rent a car would be a good option. (And they could always bring bikes along on the train if they want to ride.)

          Not one answer – many answers. It’s about giving people a choice. You would take that away.

          Happy Holidays!

      • Todd Eastman says:

        “If the state invested in restoring the entire corridor to what it should be, people wouldn’t just come to Lake Placid to ride the trains – people would ride the trains to get to Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, and all the other stops on the corridor. Dinner trains and other services would become possible. (People would ride the trains just for that.) Let’s not forget the Amtrak connection.”

        Please support this assertion with data… thanks.

        • Larry Roth says:

          You want data, restore the line. As the trail people are always telling us, “Build it and they will come.” (And where’s the data proving the trail will be the giant economic boost they claim?)

          If you want to hedge your bets, do the smart thing: rail with trail. Everyone wins.

          If it’s data you want, the ASR has seen steady increases in ridership as they have brought more of the corridor into service over the years. They are adding equipment – they have a shop facility finally set for construction to support their efforts.

          Nationally, Amtrak has found where they improve service and add trains, ridership picks up. In Florida, the Brightline rail service is expanding and attracting new investment along with ridership. Even Texas is looking at High Speed Rail.

          Massachusetts and Connecticutt are working together to expand their rail options for passenger, freight, and commuting. It’s all paying off. It’s stimulating local development around the rail corridors and helping shift goods and people off the roads – which is what we have to start doing if we are going to do anything about climate change. They are looking at starting a new seasonal rail service to the Berkshires from NYC.

          In Scotland, the Borders Railway saw the return of rail service to an area that had the tracks pulled decades ago. They put in 30+ miles of new track. Results? They beat the predicted cost-benefit ratios, tourism is up, businesses are expanding, and people are choosing to move to the area. And car trips are down now that people have a choice. They are looking to extend the line.

          The rest of the world is investing in rail: China, India, Africa, Europe – it’s only the US that doesn’t get it. We’re coming up on the 150th anniversary of the Golden Spike and the first US transcontinental railroad in 2019. It’s time to learn from the past if we are going to have a viable future.

          You have just one rail line that can reach Lake Placid – and hundreds of miles of trails already in place. 34 additional miles of trail isn’t going to make any real difference to the local economy, not the way restoring the line and making a real investment in service on it would.

          There’s plenty of data.

          • ben says:

            Improved ridership over the years, let’s see: Didn’t pay for their Polar Express license on time in 2017; failed to pay their 1/3 of the Town of Webb shuttle service this year causing it to be shut down on Labor Day weekend; then went to the Town of Webb & asked them to foot the $4000 bill a week for their fall shuttle buses. Yep, expanding & paying bills NOT! Keep telling yourself you’re doing good; your tax returns say otherwise!

            • Larry Roth says:

              They’re meeting their expenses, they’re paying their bills, they’re running trains and they’re serving thousands of paying customers.

              So tell us how much your trail is going to pay in taxes, tell us how many people it’s going to hire, and who will pay to use it? And tell us who will fix things when problems come up – as they will?

  6. LeRoy Hogan says:

    Take note no referendum allowed to let the people deicide what to do with their infrastructure resources. I assume Cuomo will OK the change.

  7. LeRoy Hogan says:

    Makes me wonder if the public comment period results will be made public just to see if our comments do matter or be ignored.

  8. Avon says:

    My issue is that, once broad authority to take over and manage a right-of-way is granted, there will be little control over how that management proceeds. Asphalt or packed stone, 12 miles or 100, mowing or herbicides – all that can evidently be decided, re-visited, and undone as often as popular or political pressure of the moment may dictate at any particular time.

    If “Forever Wild” land were designated to be managed in such an unpredictable and unstable way, who knows if we’d even have wilderness anymore!

    The usage for this corridor (and the other corridors, most extremely the Thruway right-of-way, that fall within the designated scope) is bound to be tweaked in ways “the people” wouldn’t want, given that money or other special interests will be in the best position to know and game the system. And those very few who wield extraordinary power for whatever reason, such as our incumbent Governor, can be the most dominant of all.

    I haven’t read the full text of the approved Master Plan or EIS, but I’m concerned by (and motivated by) the last substantive paragraph of the press release, which says “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.” Sounds like carte blanche to me!

    My point is that no one should even have to read detailed technical documents in the first place in order to know what are the management risks and choices in what we’d consider reasonable use and enjoyment of the Adirondack Park. And if a permanent “blank check” is the plan, no one can ever know but a few technocrats. So I think the proposal is inherently scary.

    • Chip Ordway says:

      Avon says: “So I think the proposal is inherently scary.”

      As it has been for years.

      The ̶s̶h̶a̶r̶e̶h̶o̶l̶d̶e̶r̶ stakeholder group that has been pushing this trail on the public for years has never been consistent with what they say they want. Their board members have all been quoted as wanting different lengths of the railroad ripped out, they have never agreed on how the trail would be built, who would be responsible for its maintenance (both physically and monetarily), and of course they have never given even a close quote on how much the construction would cost, and those numbers continuously vary, too.

      They have claimed that rail and trail could not be built together. This has been legitimately debunked by the TRAC proposal. They will claim that the rail supporters are against the trail. This too is false, as the rail crowd has always been fine with the “rail WITH trail” proposal, but not against ripping out what was a working railroad all of two years ago for their trail.

      “Scary” is a well chosen word.

    • Boreas says:

      Avon,

      Change CAN be scary. But try to keep in mind this particular recommendation that is being sent to the governor for approval has nothing to do with the FP in general. It only deals with the legal uses of one rail corridor (Remson-LP) and NO others at this time (at least from what I have read). It does state however that any new corridor acquisitions in the future would be subject to this multiple-use allowance as well (think Tahawus?). Regardless, it doesn’t dictate how a corridor WILL be used, but rather how a corridor CAN be used. How a corridor is FINALLY used will be subject to a lengthy period of wailing and gnashing of teeth by all stakeholders including politicians, communities and taxpayers.

      But to address your over-all concern about the FP and its uses into the future, I can guarantee that changes will occur based on politics and needs – including needs that are real, perceived, and imagined. Whether this is good or bad all depends upon one’s perspective.

      • Larry Roth says:

        Change is unavoidable. Nature is going to see to that – and she doesn’t care about politics and needs or one’s perspective.

      • Avon says:

        Actually, Boreas, your personal “guarantee” that future changes in the plan will be based on politics and needs (presumably, the politics and needs of some insiders and a few others who happen to be in a position to devote their attention to it) is exactly what I call a “blank check.” I myself don’t hand out blank checks to unknown payees, and I don’t see why the State should.
        Guaranteeing a future of wailing and gnashing of teeth regarding Remsen-LP (and, why not all the others eventually?) is the cause of, not the answer to, my fear for the Adks.

        I think we need instead some timely decisions about the use of Remsen-LP.
        And the time to make decisions about other corridors is before, not after, various parties’ plans for them have advanced and entrenched.
        I still haven’t seen why unlimited authority needs to be given by us to them … not even specifying who “them” is!

        • Boreas says:

          Hey, don’t shoot the messenger. The Park was born of politics, and has been steeped in politics ever since. All we can do about it is vote or run for office ourselves. If you are under the impression upstate NY and Park residents have much influence on Albany, you will likely be disappointed with many decisions.

          • Avon says:

            Boreas, I’d never shoot you!
            I’m just saying that if politics is where we were, and politics is where we will be, then the current proposal is zero progress toward an actual policy solution. Put another way, guaranteeing that is no help with the scary stuff. We need helpful guidance and action, not (just) this proposal.
            What I don’t think is that a political and/or needs-based process is necessarily a bad thing. We all just need to make the politics as intelligent and fair as possible, and the needs assessments as intelligent and honest as possible. I actually believe that’s worth trying, rather than concluding that the good guys will have scant influence anyway.

  9. James Falcsik says:

    There is no surprise the APA was going to approve the change in the travel corridor definition. Two other issues remain from Judge Main’s court ruling where he retains jurisdiction; corridor ownership and historical preservation. What is the status of these two issues which require resolution before any rails are lifted?

  10. Curt Austin says:

    The citizens of New York are entitled to get their way on how to use a state-owned resource, including whatever modifications to procedures may be required.

    That’s what’s happening here. It’s wrong to try to subvert it.

    • Chip Ordway says:

      Wait….you mean we voted on it?

      Curt…do you really expect anyone outside of the ARTA circle of beliefs that this was achieved fairly with input from *all* sides? Is that seriously what you’re trying to imply?

      • Curt Austin says:

        Yes, of course. I see a fanatical minority desperately trying to hang onto a nostalgic dream. Meanwhile, there are bicycles in nearly every garage, and thousands of rail trails – but not in the Adirondacks. I see the powers-that-be bravely defying radicalized railfans to do the people’s will.

        Talk about a “circle of beliefs” – did you really believe there would be Pullman cars?

        • James Falcsik says:

          Radicalized railfans; fanatical minority? A legal process to challenge state agencies that have been manipulated by special interests who disregard existing statutes is considered subversion?

          Your acceptance of “the end justifies the means” so some local citizens get what they want is supporting a type of subversion. What about trail activists fooling the local citizens with pie-in-the-sky promises of economic bounty? How about trail activists publishing corrupt overnight visitor stay numbers for existing trails that are grossly exaggerated? No problem through your eyes? What about trail activists attending public meetings to influence local ordinances, against IRS regulation, and stating the rail trail conversion would be free? A trail organization that openly promotes political candidates on their social media platforms who support rail trail conversion, again, against IRS non-profit regulations? Do you support this as a “modification of procedure” that is acceptable?

          Being fair, railfans have some rose-colored tint on our own glasses, that the Golden Age of rail travel will return soon; but not to the degree of what the trail and bike lobby promotes with rail trails as the savior of the local economies.

          Curt, we disagree on what the future of the R-LP should be, but nevertheless I have appreciated your perspective (despite you having blocked my posts on your own trail Facebook page). However, railfans are not radicalized, or nearly as fanatical as the trail or sledding activists supporting this rail corridor conversion using the methods described.

          • Boreas says:

            James,

            Regardless of the color of our glasses, the future of the R-LP as a successful rail corridor also depends on NYS leasing the corridor to a carrier. The big question is, will this happen, and if so, when, and who would the carrier be? NYS did not even extend a short-term lease last season. Will they change their mind if the trail is held up indefinitely? In the meantime, will the state allow the corridor to deteriorate?

            I doubt this administration has changed their mind on the future use of this corridor. Wait for another administration? What state of disrepair will the rails be in by then? The cost of repairs to bring the rails up to safety standards continue to increase daily as the debate continues.

    • Larry Roth says:

      No subversion here – just the give and take of the political process. More take than give at times – and if you’re talking about the citizens of New York State, that includes everyone, not just those within the Adirondacks. State money comes from all of us after all. We will all be footing the bill for what happens.

      And let’s not forget the there are stakeholders from outside the state. There are all those who visit. There are those looking for a place to live. There are those who recognize the Adirondacks are a national treasure and a global resource. They deserve a voice too.

      • Curt Austin says:

        I have had all those perspectives, from growing up in the foothills (not far from Remsen), to living in Ohio, to living and operating a small business within the Blue Line.

        I also married a native! Her family was in the hospitality business going back to the days when their customers arrived from NYC by train at Riverside Station. That changed to where the family arrived by train, but the husband drove up in the car. This situation didn’t last long; passenger service to Riverside ended soon after. SNCR’s attempt to revive it was an abject failure.

        Good decisions come from considering every *valid* point of view. Rail supporters offer many *invalid* points of view, the chief one being a belief – contrary to both historical trends and recent experience – that railroad operations will soon return to their former glory.

  11. ben says:

    It’s in the states hands again, but I’m sure the rail folks will go right back to court next year over the changes to the SLMP or maybe they’ll wait until a new UMP is created/signed. Either way another court round is a given. But, if the rail folks would have gotten on board with Option 7, they could have been running trains now to Tupper Lake, trying to prove that the rail line is profitable. Maybe then they could be talking about how they meet/pay their bills on time (i.e. see Polar Express bill from 2017 not paid on time; $10,000 owed to Town Of Webb for shuttle service not paid on time, are just a few bills they cannot seem to pay on time). The rail folks could have been working with the state on improving what they currently have & working with the state to improve what they would have gotten (trains to Tupper Lake); but please continue to fight it out with the state; You just re-elected a dipshit governor who wants the trail. Who do you think is going to win in the end? It’s not the rails! If you loose everything in the end, don’t blame the trail folks, don’t blame the state; just look in the mirror & thank yourselves, because it will be the rail folks who cause their own demise!

    • Chip Ordway says:

      Isn’t it funny that the accusations you continue to make are shot down every single time but yet you *continue* to make them? You sure harbor a lot of anger.

      What’s even funnier is now you’re calling out the Gov. in this whole mess. The Gov. has proven ties with the snowmobilers. You just don’t know WHO to blame anymore!

      • ben says:

        Let’s see what lie did I make. ASR didn’t pay the polar express license fee on time in 2017. ASR didn’t pay their 1/3 of the cost for the Town Of Webb Shuttle Service this year on time, forcing the Town to shut the service down after Labor Day. Didn’t say they didn’t make the payment at all on either, all I said was they couldn’t make them on time! The governor is a dipshit! And the ARPS/ASR will go right back to court and they could of had a train running to Tupper Lake by now if they didn’t bitch about Option 7. So exactly what was a lie?

  12. george says:

    Here’s a simple question for the rail advocates, what are you going to do if the DOT ever refused to renew your lease for use of the corridor? Do you fold up tent & go out of business & who’s fault would that be? It wouldn’t be the DOT or states fault if that were to happen.

    • James Falcsik says:

      In your speculative post, why is it necessary to assign blame?

      NYS has never provided a lease; ASR operates by 30 day permit. ARPS is a non-profit organization and presumably ASR operates at the pleasure of the NYSDOT, so if politics results in the lack of a permit why would you blame ASR?

      The NYSDOT was allegedly in the process of executing the improvement of the line to Tupper Lake when politics brought a halt to the plan. There was no action by ASRP to halt that rebuilding. If the funds existed to rebuild 45 miles of track why did the funds suddenly disappear because of litigation not related to that section?

      Do you want ASR to go out of business? It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out if there is no revenue from operating the trains and no revenue received from corridor maintenance, then the non-profit ARPS would need to find another source of income to continue its mission.

  13. Larry Roth says:

    Here’s a simple question for you and everyone who keeps warning that if the rail advocates don’t shut up and play dead, the state will take away the corridor to punish them – and it will be their own fault for the’crime’ of doing exactly what their mission calls for them to do?

    How exactly would the state justify something so arbitrary and punitive? And why are you so ready to give the state permission to act in that way? Think it can’t happen to you?

    • george says:

      As James stated the ASR has 30 day permits to operate. SO the state could choose to just not renew the permits anymore. Does that end the ASR; it shouldn’t because they would still be able to run from Utica to Remsen or over to Holland Patent; those routes would not be affected by no permit to operate in the corridor. Would I be upset with a decision like that, NO! And yes there was action by the ARPS; you sued the state to stop the trail from being built. Since the trail north of Tupper Lake & rails south of Tupper Lake were all tied together in Option 7, when the Judge tossed it; he killed your tracks to Tupper Lake. SO the judge killed your tracks rebuild, not the state or DOT!

      • Larry Roth says:

        I think we can classify this as one more “shut up and go away” comment that contributes little to the debate.

        What all the people who complain about the lawsuit fail to acknowledge is that the state lost. They lost on the facts, the law, and the history.

        It’s curious how many people don’t care about the state following its own laws or doing due diligence so long as they get what they want. It’s troubling that more of them aren’t acknowledging that the entire case for ripping out the tracks was based on flawed assumptions, or what that indicates about the integrity of the process.

        What’s more troubling is that there are few signs the state or the trail supporters have learned anything from this. All that matters is what they want, and that’s all they want to hear. Getting around the law by redefining an inconvenient bit of phrasing doesn’t pass the smell test – and could prove problematic in court. It also ignores easement issues and historic preservation law.

        Support for the rail line can be found in every community along the line. There is support for the rail corridor that extends beyond the Adirondacks too – although there are repeated efforts to deny that as well. There are multiple businesses that support restoration of the line – and other groups. It’s not all about making money, although that seems to be the primary motivation for some. There are reasons beside economic justifications that matter.

        That’s not to say there isn’t support for the trail – but attempts to portray that support as overwhelming are deliberately trying to end the debate by painting a false picture.

        Rail trails are a last-century fad that do not address the problems of this century. They do nothing to correct an economy that is increasingly failing to serve the vast majority of people. They do nothing to meet the challenges coming from changing climate. They do not reflect the shifting demographics of the country. Yes, they do provide certain benefits – but exaggerating them and denying the gains that a restored rail corridor would provide is less than helpful.

        The rail trail has been magnified into this ‘magic bullet’ that will solve all the problems of the region. The real world isn’t that simple. The railroad won’t fix them all by itself either of course – but it offers things the trail can’t, and an approach that accommodates both will multiply the benefits from both.

        This isn’t just a debate over which is better, rail or trail (a false choice). This is just the latest stage in a fight going back decades driven by people whose primary goal is eliminating the rails entirely, despite the consequences. Those are the people who are really living in the past. We need more choices to be able to survive and thrive in this new century.

        Ripping out the last rail line to Lake Placid won’t help, and no amount of denial from the trail people who now admit they want it all will change that.

        • george says:

          You keep saying the state lost. They still own the corridor & they are driving forward on converting part of it to a trail. They’ve updated the definition of travel corridor to include wording for the trail. The rail folks seem to be the ones who lost here. You got no train running to Tupper Lake & the longer you drag this out, the less likely it is you’ll ever get it. I bet if you ask the communities along the corridor which they prefer, all of them to a tee will say trail. A trail may not be the be all do all best answer, but it beats the train any day of the week & twice on weekends! Either way you look at it the snowmobile community will be riding in the corridor this winter; but you’ll not be running trains again in the corridor north of Big Moose for yet another few years it appears, if ever again!

          • Larry Roth says:

            If you mean letting the corridor wash away with no work getting done on anything except on an emergency basis, if you count driving out the rail explorers and everyone who spent money riding the train in the tri-lakes as a win, well I guess you have every reason to be satisfied.

            As for the state still owning the corridor, you seem to be overlooking the problem of easements. If the tracks are pulled, the ownership of the corridor reverts to the land owners, and no word games with corridor definitions will help with that. Despite state claims there are no easement issues, there’s good reason to believe there are – and the court case demonstrated the state had NOT done its homework.

            The state’s 2016 plan for the corridor lost in court. Deny it all you want, but that’s what happened.

            But then, your comment suggests you are part of the snowmobile community so that’s not a surprise. As I said, some people don’t care about anything except getting what they want, and it’s clear the snowmobile community includes a contingent who care about nothing except being able to ride – if and when it snows. Taking out the rails will do nothing about the weather and where it’s headed these days.

            No thought for the future, no thought for the bigger picture. Have you considered if you get the tracks pulled all the way to Old Forge, you will find yourself barred from the corridor – because it will be limited to non-motorized use and declared a wilderness area? Have you forgotten how many of the anti-rail groups have that as their real agenda, and don’t care about your claims about how much money snowmobiling brings in?

            This fight is about trying to accommodate competing interests in the face of a world that is changing. The rail trail concept was born out of the idea that keeping rail corridors open against future need was important. It wasn’t solely about ‘healthy exercise’ or creating snowmobile superhighways. That future is here. Play time is going to have to take a back seat to coping with it.

            Happy holidays. Enjoy the winter and the snow while you still can.

      • James Falcsik says:

        The NYS stopped working on the corridor upgrade to TL before Judge Main released his ruling vacating Option 7. The court ruling prevents the rails from being removed; it does not prevent upgrading or improving any part of it. If the funds were available prior to the ruling, the original 1996 UMP Option 6 would still provide for the work. The idea Option 7 was required to rebuild the corridor to TL is bogus.

        My understanding is the ASR permit was never revoked to operate on the north end.

  14. george says:

    You are suing the state & you expect them to continue to fund rail upgrades. You are nuts! I’d end your corridor use totally until any court cases are finished.

    • Larry Roth says:

      Well, let’s be fair then. How about nobody uses the corridor until everything is settled? Would that make you happy?

      It’s a matter of the court decision throwing out the 2016 plan. That means the previous UMP is still in effect. Until the state comes up with something that can stand a challenge in court, those are the rules everyone is supposed to be following.

      As it is, the state is doing nothing to keep up the plan – so what are you complaining about? You can’t tear up the rails unless and until the state gets something approved to do that, and in the mean time no one wins while the state lets the corridor deteriorate. There is no revenue from the rail bikes, or trains in the trilakes either, thanks to the state. That serves no one; it’s money left on the table.

      The snowmobile community has yet to show they can keep the corridor intact, and the state isn’t letting ASR people in to work on the corridor either, let alone funding restoration, to the best of my knowledge.

      There are hundreds of miles of snowmobile trails you can ride now, and the state keeps building new ones. Take some time and go enjoy those trails.

    • James Falcsik says:

      george…your comments look a lot like ben’s. Do you guys hang out together?

      • george says:

        Again, I don’t know Ben. And to answer Larry’s comment, no I don’t think snowmobile riders or anybody else on the DEC/DOTs good side should be excluded from using the rails at this time. We aren’t suing the state & stopping the state from taking action they have deem necessary!

        • Larry Roth says:

          There you go – that whole idea that someone has to stay on the ‘good side’ of DEC/DOT is a dead giveaway. They are supposed to work for all of us, not vice versa – and everyone is supposed to play by the rules – including them.

          They didn’t, they got called on it – and the only thing that you care about is you didn’t get what you wanted.

          So much for the high moral ground. You make it very clear who is putting their interests ahead of everyone else – and what you will tolerate to get what you want.

        • Chip Ordway says:

          And again, I’ll pose the question that has been posed many times before. The State was sued, and they *lost*. As a resident of this state, are you saying that even though they were ruled wrong on 100% of what they were being contested on, this in no way affects you? Basically that says that you’re for whatever *you* want, rules and laws be damned.

          • george says:

            Yes the state lost in court, but that didn’t stop the state from changing the laws or redefining the SMLP to meet one of the judges issues, and work to clear up his other concerns. You rail fans, just like the snowmobilers use the corridor because the state allows it. You rail fans sue the state & you don’t expect the state to bite back. Your are lacking in smarts then! And why should the state afford you the opportunity to have a train to Tupper Lake when you are fighting them in court. You want it all; the state still gives you a lease to operate on the southern end. Be thankful for that, it can be taken away. And to Chips concern, the judge ruled the state couldn’t pull up the rails; HE NEVER ruled that snowmobilers couldn’t continue to use the corridor in the winter & HE NEVER ruled that the state had to allow you to run a train on the tracks ever again. The state has no intention of allowing you north of Big Moose, get use to it; we may never get the rails out, but that doesn’t mean we can bury them either! MY suggestion to the state is bury the tracks & ties under a boat load of gravel & build a flat trail from Thendara to Lake Placid!

            • James Falcsik says:

              @george… “MY suggestion to the state is bury the tracks & ties under a boat load of gravel & build a flat trail from Thendara to Lake Placid!”..

              That is the exact same suggestion made by “ben, aka David Whitbeck, on other socal media platforms. Is it so important to get your point or opinion across in these forums that multiple aliases are required? Is that how you create a majority consensus in this type of forum debate?

              Unbelievable!…I guess this is just another example of any practice, any method necessary, do-whatever-it-takes, as well as Curt’s “whatever modifications to procedures may be required” to be sure the “good side” gets their outcome.

              • george says:

                Accusing me of being someone else is just BS on your part. Because I agree with other individuals doesn’t make me them. Burying the rails is the simple solution. You get to keep your goal of the rails not being removed & the trail community gets a trail. It is quite simple!

                • Chip Ordway says:

                  Thanks for clarifying that you seem to think you know what my concerns are. Yeah….not exactly accurate, but hey, who’s judging, right?

                  FYI, contrary to how you want to paint my opinion out to be, I have NEVER been against the trail–as long as it can coexist. Don’t tell me that a mostly parallel trail couldn’t happen, and don’t tell me that the tracks ending at Tupper would be a compromise. You’d be wrong both times.

                  The State, for whatever reason anyone wants to claim, followed the ARTA plan almost to the T, even though both rail people and history supporters cried foul, and guess what? The State lost.

                  And then, after much bravado by ARTA board members and supporters alike thinking that it was a rock solid swish, their rug was yanked out from under them, leading people like ARTA board member Jim McCulley to whine that the judge was “judge shopped”.

                  Even in the event that I was completely anti-rail and lived my whole life for nothing except a sled between my legs, I would want nothing to do with the anti-trail crowd in this whole mess. They lie, they play dirty, and they harass–all of which are proven facts and not just my opinion. If that’s the side you want to align yourself with, then you have such a right, but don’t claim that you are addressing my own concerns, because it’s quite clear that you have no clue what my concerns are.

                • James Falcsik says:

                  Well tehn my apologies to all three of you; ben, george and David, for getting you all confused about who came up with the idea to bury the rails:

                  Ben says:
                  October 2, 2018 at 3:29 pm
                  At this point leave the tracks & JUST COVER THEM UP. Leave it as a rail corridor & JUST COVER THEM UP, ALL THE WAY TO BIG MOOSE STATION. Beat the rail folks at their own game. Tracks remained, they were just COVERED UP! Blacktop all the way from Lake Placid to Big Moose Station.

                  September 17, 2018: David Whitbeck how hard would it be to do that & just cover the rails up.

                  September 2, 2018: David Whitbeck If the state cannot tear them out, nothing says the state just can’t cover them up. Bury the tracks.

                  Merry Christmas to all!

  15. Boreas says:

    “Rules” can be revised. Right-of-ways can be secured. “Historical requirements” can be satisfied. Yes, the lawsuit was a legal setback for the plan, but the administration was handily re-elected, and it seems they haven’t changed their mind on re-purposing at least some of the corridor, and future corridors it may acquire. They are systematically addressing the judge’s objections.

    Many people are for the RR, many people are for a trail. I don’t see this as a right or wrong discussion. Frankly. the world will continue to turn regardless of the outcome. But turning opponents into enemies is not going to be productive. Looking for common ground and compromise during the process typically will result in a final plan we ALL can live with. I believe that was the intent of the state’s compromise to begin with. The “C” word. But that plan may be swept away with politics and stubbornness.

    • Larry Roth says:

      There’s one element lacking in your comment Boreas, and it’s a critical ingredient: good faith.

      Before parties can find common ground and compromise, they have to demonstrate that they can be trusted – and that compromise is even possible. That does not appear to be the case here.

      You say that rules can be revised and rights of way can be secured. If the state had been working in good faith, the problems the law suit forced the state to admit would have been recognized ahead of time and either been dealt with in proper fashion or would have led to some very different decisions.

      Instead, it looks like decisions were handed down from above and the review process was inverted to justify them after the fact – and not all of the facts either.

      Saying that there’s nothing productive about turning opponents into enemies ignores that opponents who engage in bad behavior are not what could be called friends. Citing an electoral victory is not the same as handing the winner a blank check for whatever they want to do. Are you trying to claim the administration won because of their trail proposal? There have been some wild claims made for the trail, but I think you just raised the bar!

      If you want compromise, it would be nice to see the anti-rail folks admit that there is a proven benefit from having rail service in the region (artificially limited though it is), and that there are needs a trail alone can not address. It would be nice to have some acknowledgement that the rails have served thousands of visitors and had a positive effect on the region. It would be nice to see some respect for the history they represent, and their potential for the future. It would be nice to see acknowledgment that this is more than a local issue, and that it has larger implications.

      Rail advocates have no problems acknowledging that trails are a good thing – they just don’t think they’re good enough to justify removing the last rail line into the region – especially a region that already has so many trails. Rail advocates believe that there are critical needs that are being ignored in all this. They’re willing to share the corridor where possible and support alternatives where it isn’t. They’ve been ridiculed, insulted, called liars, and smeared relentlessly in return.

      Boreas, it would be helpful if you would acknowledge that some of the parties involved in this have no interest in compromise and never have. They want the rails gone and that’s the only thing they will ever accept.

      Trail advocates are openly admitting they want the tracks gone all the way back to Old Forge – and some would pull them all the way back to Utica. And there are others who don’t care if the trail is ever built – as long as they get rid of the rails. They may well turn around and try to block the trail if they get that done.

      You talk about compromise, but what you are actually asking for is unconditional surrender however much you try to frame it as being ‘reasonable”. For my part, I politely decline. Let me suggest a compromise to you.

      Let’s see the state provide the necessary funding to restore rail service to Tupper Lake, as was promised in the so-called 2016 compromise plan. There are no easement questions if that is done, no problems with travel corridor definitions, or historic preservation laws. ARTA fully supported this part of the plan – as long as they got their trail – and it was what the state agreed to do in any case, before all of their legal failings were revealed in court.

      Track restoration should have been done first in any case. It could have been finished long before the trail could be built, would have been fully compatible with the 1996 UMP – which is still in effect – and would have allowed initial results to see how the overall plan was working out before doing anything irrevocable.

      The state would still be free to try to build the trail – but they would have to jump through all the legal hoops first – if they can. Plus, it would be a chance to find out if rail service to Tupper Lake all the way from Utica is viable on its own as the state claimed it would be, or if going on to Lake Placid is still the best choice overall – in which case the state can focus on the best way to do rail with trail.

      In the meantime the towns along the corridor could focus on efforts to make themselves more bike-friendly regardless of what happens. Whether they get trail alone or rail with trail, they need to do that work in any case. Bike racks, signage, street and curb changes – it’s all good. With trains it would be even better.

      And rail bike operations could resume in the tri-lakes any time the state decides to allow it while they sort things out. Everyone wins – except those who only care about getting the tracks ripped out.

      If you want compromise Boreas, this would be one way to do it – and it would allow the state and the trail advocates to demonstrate the good faith that has been sorely lacking in all this. It would be far more productive for everyone than the current situation where the state is deliberately allowing the corridor to deteriorate in the hope of wearing out all opposition to its plans.

      • Boreas says:

        “You talk about compromise, but what you are actually asking for is unconditional surrender however much you try to frame it as being ‘reasonable”. ”

        This is the stubbornness I referred to. It is all or nothing on the rail advocates’ part. Remson to TL was a compromise. Remson to LP is more than you have now. That is hardly a compromise. Sure, other compromises can be put forth, but if it keeps being framed as rail vs. trail, no compromise is likely.

        “Rail advocates have no problems acknowledging that trails are a good thing – they just don’t think they’re good enough to justify removing the last rail line into the region – especially a region that already has so many trails.”

        How many of these “trails” can be used by bikes, runners, wheelchairs, blind or partially disabled people, skiiers, snowmobiles, etc. etc.? I am still trying to think of one.

        “Boreas, it would be helpful if you would acknowledge that some of the parties involved in this have no interest in compromise and never have.”

        I can acknowledge that without hesitation. This comments thread contains proof. But there ARE many people willing to compromise – mostly the citizens of the area. But they don’t fill up blogs with the same rhetoric. Instead, these sites are overpowered by the people who don’t want to compromise, or even talk to each other. Essentially sworn enemies with bad blood. If the best option is to have both rail and trail, let’s do it. What is the quickest and most feasible way to do it? I think we know the answer.

        • Larry Roth says:

          Boreas, what exactly are you offering as a compromise? I see nothing here from you, other than that you want a trail, and you want to take up the rails for it.

          What are you offering to demonstrate good faith? I see nothing here to that end either. All you are doing is more name-calling.

          You say: “How many of these “trails” can be used by bikes, runners, wheelchairs, blind or partially disabled people, skiiers, snowmobiles, etc. etc.? I am still trying to think of one.”

          Is that the best you can do? Your inability to think of one proves nothing except that you are unwilling to consider any alternatives. Are you seriously claiming there are no snowmobile trails in the region, no places for skiers, people with disabilities? No one rides bikes anywhere? No one has a place to run? That defies reason.

          And I would remind you the railroad accommodates people with disabilities on a routine basis, as well as seniors, people with small children, people who can’t/don’t drive, etc. They do it in all kinds of weather throughout their operating season.

          As for your argument that Remsen to Lake Placid being more than we have now, I would remind you that the UMP called for exactly that – preserving the entire rail corridor as a rail corridor and developing trails around it.

          I remind you there would be no corridor to fight over if the rail people hadn’t worked to bring it back. Trail groups have always expected the state to do the heavy lifting – where’s their skin in the game? Thousands of people are willing to pay money to ride the rails every year – but you demand a ‘free trail’ and expect the state to pick up the bill at taxpayer expense, and you’re not willing to share the corridor.

          How many ARTA volunteers have gone out to repair washouts and remove fallen trees? How many miles of corridor have snowmobile clubs done brush clearing on? How many culverts have they unblocked? Who cleans up their litter in the spring? If you want an opportunity to demonstrate good faith and willingness to come together – there you go. The job is big enough to accommodate everyone.

          The only side insisting it has to be either rail or trail, no other choice, is the trail side. Period. You may be more polite about it than some of the other commenters here, but you are just as uncompromising as they are. Please stop engaging in projection.

          • Boreas says:

            “Boreas, what exactly are you offering as a compromise? I see nothing here from you, other than that you want a trail, and you want to take up the rails for it.”

            Larry, in the hundred or so discussions we have had, you know my preference has always been the compromise decided on by the state. Re-purposing 34 miles to LP and improving the rails south of TL. But rail advocates deny this is a compromise. So until we agree on the definition of a compromise, I guess it will be pointless to argue.

            “You say: “How many of these “trails” can be used by bikes, runners, wheelchairs, blind or partially disabled people, skiers, snowmobiles, etc. etc.? I am still trying to think of one.”
            “Is that the best you can do?”

            [“Rail advocates have no problems acknowledging that trails are a good thing – they just don’t think they’re good enough to justify removing the last rail line into the region – especially a region that already has so many trails.”]

            In responding to your assertion that there are “so many” trails in the Park already, yes – it is all I need to do. You weren’t talking about alternatives, you were saying we didn’t need another “trail”.

            “…and you’re not willing to share the corridor.” As I have also said a hundred times, I am perfectly willing to share – either side-by-side or sections. But if side-by-side isn’t deemed feasible by the people who would have to institute it, that only leaves sharing different sections of the corridor, which is a non-starter for rail enthusiasts. All you are saying is that if we want a trail, then just build one. (20 years of legal battles and a quarter of a billion dollars worth of expenditures.) How magnanimous!

            My question to you is, what are the rail enthusiasts willing to give up to get the ASR or other carrier running again through the corridor? I have heard ZERO concessions offered by rail enthusiasts, other than an unrealistic side-by-side trail that would have no negative effect on rail.

            Again, an all-or-nothing stance will likely result in getting all-or-nothing. With this and possible future administrations wishing to repurpose the line, is that a wise stance?

            • LeRoy Hogan says:

              With less than 200 miles of tourist rail left in this state, there isn’t much left to give up as compared to thousands of miles of trail.

              • Boreas says:

                Yes, there are many miles of “trails” throughout the state. But we are not arguing hiking trails, ski trails, horse trails, etc. no more than we are arguing freight/passenger/commuter lines across the state. It is a purposely-skewed comparison that has no value in this particular discussion.

                Now, is there a multi-town, multi-use, multi-season, relatively flat, recreation trail within the Park? The only one that comes to mind is the nice Warren County Bikeway (10 miles) that is smoothly paved (along an old rail bed), but I do not believe allows snowmobiles. Currently, there are many more miles of RAILS than recreational, multi-use bike trails that we are discussing in the Park. That is why it would be unique in the Tri-lakes region.

                A scenic RR from Utica/Remson to TL AND a multipurpose trail from TL to LP allows for both unique types of recreation along the corridor. And for those that feel length matters, the Remson-TL line would still be longer than the recreation trail.

  16. george says:

    Compromise: how about you get to exist on the southern end. The state can end you very quickly. And as far as why snowmobile clubs don’t get out to do brushing or other types of corridor work: ASR has the contract to do that for the period they have access to the corridor. During the period that the snowmobile community has access to the corridor the local snowmobile clubs are out there brushing, & cleaning up/maintaining the trail. I don’t see ASR lifting a finger to help in the winter. I really don’t see ASR doing anything. YOU DID NOTHING TO SUPPORT the current work north of Beaver River to fix the corridor!

    • Larry Roth says:

      “And we should get off your lawn, too!”

      Do you realize how much you sound like a bully, continually threatening “the state can shut you down any time”? That’s always been the case – 30 day permits, you know. The state has always kept a tight leash on railroad operations.

      If you say the ASR has to do clean up only in the time they have access to the corridor, you can’t complain they’re not there when it’s snowmobile season. And if you claim the snowmobile clubs clean up after themselves, how do you explain all the stuff the ASR has to bring out in the spring before they can begin operations? How much work do snowmobile clubs have to do before they can use the corridor – aside from hoping it snows – after the ASR shuts down for the season, hmm?

      If you haven’t seen the ASR do anything, perhaps you’ve been looking in the wrong places. If you know what to look for, you can see where a lot has been done to keep up the corridor and the facilities the ASR is responsible for. You can also compare with how well and how much work the state does on its own, where they don’t let the ASR in.

      Take the emergency corridor work north of Beaver River. Can the ASR get its equipment in there now at this time of year? Was there work that needed to be done before the washout that the state had not yet approved or funded? Was it caused by a weather event, or beavers doing what they do? I don’t think you have the full story, and I’m pretty sure there were no snowmobilers involved in the repair work either.

      Besides which, even Class One railroads have washouts. It’s why rail corridors need constant attention – and why turning it into a trail with the state’s trail maintenance priorities is going to be problematic.

      You’ve made it very clear how you feel, so unless you have something new to contribute to the discussion, why don’t you enjoy the holidays for a while?

  17. george says:

    Pound your chest, jump up & down. At this point I really don’t care anymore. The state is moving forward with a trail. They’ve changed the SLMP & you can’t stop that & neither can the courts. Historical preservation can be accomplished just as it has been done in other areas of the state. Ownership of the entire corridor is being worked on & you cannot stop that either. In the end THERE WILL BE A TRAIL & maybe just maybe you’ll get a train to Tupper Lake. Pigs will fly & cows will jump over the moon too before that happens though I believe. As you said you survive because the state continues to give you 30 day operating permits; the snowmobile community gets 1 permit every year for 1 Dec – 30 March. We don’t have to beg & plead for monthly renewals. Wonder what that says about us compared to you! Now go off & continue to pound your chest & pump up your ego.

  18. LeRoy Hogan says:

    Attacking each others’ integrity is such a waste of time with not accomplishing anything.

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