No time frame for decision on rail-trail lawsuit

No time frame has been set to resolve a lawsuit against the state over a proposed rail trail.

“The decision remains, sub judice, or still before the court,” Franklin County Clerk Kip Cassavaw wrote in an email Wednesday.

The lawsuit was filed more than a year ago by the Adirondack Rail Preservation Society, which operates seasonal tourist trains under the Adirondack Scenic Railroad name.

ARPS contends in the suit that the state departments of Environmental Conservation and Transportation, along with the state Adirondack Park Agency, failed to take into account economic data and historic preservation laws when the agencies jointly proposed removing 34 miles of train tracks between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake. The railroad also claims the decision to build a trail was arbitrary and capricious.

The state plans to remove the tracks between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake to build a multi-use recreational trail instead. As part of the plan, 45 miles of tracks would also be upgraded to allow passenger service between Utica and Tupper Lake.

The railroad used to run a tourist train between Lake Placid and Saranac Lake, but the DOT denied it a permit to do so this year. The company is still running trains at its southern operations between Utica and the Old Forge area.

At a hearing on the suit in January, acting state Supreme Court Justice Robert Main requested more information from the state on title issues and historic preservation. In the intervening time, the state appears to have come to an agreement to buy a parcel of land in Saranac Lake, notifying that village’s board recently of its intent to do so. The land is currently owned by North Country Community College and Franklin and Essex counties.

The DEC notified the village of Saranac Lake of its intent to purchase the land earlier this summer, and the village sent a letter to the department that it would not oppose such a purchase.

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