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Rail trail or bust!
April 11, 2014 - John Stack
I find much of the Scenic Railroad justifications as quite comical in their opposition. I also find it cringe worthy. If I was a train advocate, I would recognize that many of the arguments made in the ADE for keeping the train have more affect in energizing the opposition than anything rail trail proponents could ever do. I liken it to the Westboro Baptist Church. The more WBC member run around with their incendiary rhetoric, more and more people are “converted” to the side of equality for all. I was sad to see Fred Phelps die, mostly because he has done more for the LBGT cause than any organization could ever hope for, but I digress.
I figured I could write a blog extolling the virtues of the rail trail by using facts, data and civilized discussion. I have written a number so far that I never published. What’s more fun is writing a rail trail piece written as if the Scenic Railroad backers had written it.
There have been countless studies showing that the rail trail is the best use of the corridor. All valid studies have shown that the economic impact of tearing up the rails would have a terrific economic impact on every single town between Lake Placid and Thendara. Virtually all studies have shown that the train is costing the state and our region millions of dollars each year in subsidies and in diminished property values. It is estimated that not only will the value of the scrap railroad steel be enough to actually complete and build a new trail, it will have enough left over to maintain the trail for the next 37 years. Not to mention that there are inquiries from local pellet mills wanting to buy all the scrap railroad ties to create more sustainable pellets without having to cut down any trees. It is estimated that just selling the ties to pellet mills would return enough money to hire 3 full time DEC rangers to patrol the whole length of the trail and buy them new mountain bikes and solar powered 4 wheelers.
As for administration, few organizations can boast of more members that have run large businesses and secured more funding – public and private – than the backers of ARTA. Our executive director, while not having a high school degree did recently pass half of his GED and also just last week stayed at a Holiday Inn Express, so we are certain our organization is in the hands of competent employees. In fact, although our trail building supplies are currently being housed under the Pine Street railroad bridge because we lost our lease over at Orville Paye’s old Gold Mine, we have a plan. This financial plan and mission statement shows how the rail trail will not only be solvent, but actually allow for a yearly celebration featuring environmental acts such as The Pete Seeger Experience for all the communities along the trail. This plan has been reviewed by a multitude of professional urban and rural planners and transportation moguls. It has also been reviewed by many of the affected communities along the corridor. We of course can’t let the actual public see any of the plan, or release the names of anyone that has seen the plan for fear that other communities may try to steal our model and build rail trails in their communities. But trust us, it’s a great plan, and all of the information is solid based upon the review of a firm associated with Chevastack Consulting.
Also, lets be honest. The rail trail proponents are just a bunch of liberal elitists. They think they know conservation, but the CO2 emitted by a bicyclist or hiker on the trail is actually beneficial to the growth cycle of the neighboring trees, actually helping to add to the carbon sync potential of the region.
One part of the plan that can be made public is that all parties agree that rather than use any state funds, the backers of the train should be legally forced to personally rip up the trails at their own expense, and be caused to also build the new trail on weekends. Its also proven that by selling a the scrapped locomotives and cars will net enough money for a traveling tent city to house the train advocates over the course of 18 months. For the winter months, there should be enough money to make a trip to the Goodwill store in Burlington to secret enough blankets for the workers, although they will all need to be housed tight against each other for warmth,saving the state more funding and cutting down on Carbon monoxide and lead poisoning normally attributed to oil burning heat sources. Finally, although our document show that the state would have to fund up to $3.87 million dollars in construction costs, this isn’t true. ARTA would get these funds and pay for the building, but it is really a “pass through” so that in actuality this is not state funding.
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