Placid village board still wants tracks to become trail

LAKE PLACID — A week after the North Elba Town Council reaffirmed its commitment to the construction of a multi-use trail on the train tracks that link the Tri-Lakes villages, the Lake Placid Board of Trustees agreed and also criticized those in favor of keeping the tracks.

Trustee Jason Leon encouraged the rest of the board to combine with Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake in a joint Tri-Lakes effort to encourage the state to complete its process and start replacing the tracks with a trail.

Trustees unanimously approved a resolution read by Lake Placid Mayor Craig Randall that urged the state to take “every step necessary” to expedite and allow construction to begin on the 34 miles of the Remsen-Lake Placid Travel Corridor that the state previously approved in 2016 to become a multi-use trail from Lake Placid to Tupper Lake.

“While it is an unsettled item at this point,” Randall said, I think it is imperative that the state be encouraged to go back and do whatever it failed to do.”

Last month, however, acting state Supreme Court Judge Robert Main Jr. ruled that the state’s plan to build the trail was “arbitrary and capricious” and failed to follow numerous state laws. His ruling pertained to a lawsuit the Adirondack Rail Preservation Society filed in April 2016.

“Frankly,” Randall said, “when I saw that decision I was thinking of the many, many meetings that I’ve sat in in Ray Brook while all of this work was going forward. Believe me, the municipalities committed a lot of time to working and being present at those meetings, and I was a little bit surprised, I guess, that the state’s work was not adequate, or was judged to be not adequate.

“The question is,” Randall continued, “what is the future of it if it sits there in its present state? It’s useless to anyone, I doubt that the rails are even in any condition now that they can bring a train back over it. But what really troubles me above everything else is they’ve had access to that corridor and those rails for how many years and there has been talk about bringing enhanced activity to the area, and that has simply never materialized. It seems like it’s time to move on.”

Leon then recommended to combine with Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake village officials to show the state their support for the multi-use trail.

“Let’s see if we can get the three communities to agree to one statement,” Randall said.

Last week the North Elba Town Council also agreed to enlist a University of Albany law school professor to, on the town’s behalf, appeal Main’s decision. North Elba town attorney Ron Briggs said the attorney, Michael Hutter, would “appeal as a friend of the court or as a direct intervenor on behalf of the town.” Briggs added Hutter’s help would come at no cost or a nominal cost. At their Monday meeting, the village said they’d reach out to the town to see if they could join North Elba in this process.

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