Another vote at this time is just an exercise in who has the larger email contact lists; after the first or second polling, the relevance is gone. Whichever group (rail vs. trail) has the bigger email contact list has no real importance on the issue of what is the best for the local economy. It's like Chicago politics: Vote early and vote often, but the results will not reflect the view of the local voters or what's best for the local economy.
ARPS (Adirondack Railway Preservation Society) through our president, Bill Branson, has publicly asked the Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates people to let us join with them in working out solutions that will benefit all groups and the local economy, but ARTA has not responded for the last several months. It seems that ARTA is not open to solutions other than ripping up the railroad to TEST their as-yet-unsupported economic benefit claims. "Build it, and they will come" works in the movies but not necessarily in real life.
ARTA keeps relying on a study which is arguably, at best, NEUTRAL for their cause and more positive to keeping the status quo; if that wasn't true, why are they doing ANOTHER study?
ARTA's whole premise from the start was that they wanted to remove the rails because the Adirondack Scenic Railroad was not a success and that it was supported by state funding. Audited income tax reports from ARPS and using the Freedom of Information Act to obtain state records and correspondence have not backed up ARTA's claims, but they still keep preaching the same false information - for example, with regard to the financial viability of the railroad on the north end, and ARPS being subsidized by the state - to back up their rationalization for a trail-only corridor.
As someone who has volunteered for almost four decades, spent hundreds and hundreds of hours to maintain and save the corridor, I take exception to the fact that people who have not lifted a finger to preserve it now believe they have a better use for the corridor and also have the needed knowledge to maintain and repair it. With the exception of the BRASS group at Beaver River in the distant past and an occasional tree cutting by others, where are the day-to-day volunteers from ARTA to help maintain the corridor? We have asked, but no one inquires or shows up for work sessions. In the past, ARPS worked hand in hand with local snowmobile groups to make repairs on the corridor, but it happens no more. Our maintenance volunteers would welcome the help.
Just one example of the unique difficulty in maintaining the corridor is its susceptibility to beaver-related problems north of the Stillwater Reservoir. (All of the major washouts and most of the minor ones were in this territory.) It will not be as easy as the ARTA people believe to maintain their trail-only corridor. Over the last 20 years, ARPS volunteers have removed more than 1,000 beavers from the railroad's 500 bridges and culverts. Remember, this is survival for the beaver population, and they "work like beavers" to defend their homes and habitat. Anyone who thinks this corridor is easy to maintain without the rails is very, very naive. It was built as a railroad and is much easier and much less costly to maintain as a railroad. The state Department of Transportation knows this fact and will continue to use ARPS to maintain it.
ARPS has always been open to the idea of multi-use of the corridor; I wish others could see the whole picture and not have such a myopic view.
Pete Gores is an ARPS board member and lives in Mumford, in western New York.