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Pa. rails-to-trails change faced hurdles but turned out well

February 24, 2012
Adirondack Daily Enterprise

To the editor:

Many years ago (just after the 1980 Olympics), I brought my two young sons to Placid for a week of cross-country skiing, downhill skiing and ice skating. It was great, and they fell in bed at night as if dead. It was, as both of them now put it, "our best vacation ever."

Just this past week, I brought the mother of those two boys to Placid for her first intro. (She fell in love with the area). We skied and skated again, and climbed to the top of the bobsled track to watch the "Worlds" (wow!), and I noticed some articles about doing a "rail to trail" in the Placid area and some controversy surrounding the proposal.

Perhaps my experience here can help. I was the Tioga County (Pa.) planner in 1990, when we had our first rail-to-trail proposal. I sat in all the meetings and, in fact, ran some of them. Again, there was much controversy over railroads, private property rights, etc. We went through some years of those meetings with the Pennsylvania state forestry department (which owned much of the land) and private land owners (who were also stakeholders).

There were fears, including for property rights, giving up the rail (although it was only banked for the future) and basically what kind of folks would be using it and would they be a threat to our local, rural way of life. Believe me, you in the Placid area have seen much more influx from outsiders than we ever had. I believe the rail use was not even close to the issue of who would be on that trail and would they respect our beautiful Pine Creek Canyon (called the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania).

In short, that rail-to-trail, all 62 or so miles of it, has been running great for a number of years now, with only small problems and as a great resource to many, both local and non. The economic benefits have been well documented here. I hope you folks can work it out. It will only add to your community.

P.S.: That trail now hooks up to one in the Susquehanna Valley, and can get you all the way to D.C.


Kerry Gyekis

Former planner, present-day private consultant, forester and writer for

Morris, Pa.



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