To the editor:
Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates is calling for the conversion of the 90-mile rail corridor connecting Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, Beaver River, Big Moose and Old Forge into a wilderness trail, the Adirondack Rail Trail, like none other in the United States.
Though it makes no sense economically or recreationally, a handful of train hobbyists seek to extend the marginal tourist-train operation between Lake Placid and Saranac Lake all the way to Utica. Never mind that this long-obsolete, 140-mile line ended service 40 years ago for lack of passengers and freight.
ARTA was criticized, in a letter to the Enterprise (July 3) from Nathaniel Longale of Voorheesville, for calling for the resignation of Garry Douglas as co-chairman of the North Country Regional Economic Development Council. This governor-appointed council was created to channel state funds to this region in support of worthy development projects.
It's not because Mr. Douglas obsessively favors the decidedly unworthy project of restoring the Utica-to-Lake Placid railroad. He has a right to be wrong, despite the waste of taxpayer money and the fact that restoration of the Utica-Placid train service would preclude far a better use of the corridor.
We have called for Mr. Douglas's resignation as the council's co-chairman not for being wrong but because of his deceptive practices in promoting a personal agenda. Earlier this year, Mr. Douglas released an announcement falsely claiming that various North Country organizations support rail restoration when they do not. He misrepresented the positions of Paul Smith's College, the Harrietstown town board, the Saranac Lake Board of Trustees, The Wild Center and the Adirondack Observatory - all of which have denied in writing ever having made such a statement.
Prior to the public forum in Tupper Lake on June 17, sponsored by Mr. Douglas' council to solicit public comments, he wrote a letter to the Tupper Lake Free Press urging railroad promoters to attend the forum and drown out those who favored a recreational trail.
"I suggest that friends of the railroad turn out in force, in case our ARTA friends decide to come. And each - no matter how repetitive - speak at the forum, thanking the council for its commitment to the preservation and rehabilitation of rail in the Adirondacks, etc., etc. Let's not do this on facebook or similar public means, as we don't want to attract ARTA's attention."
This from the co-chairman of an organization charged with eliciting exactly the kind of input Mr. Douglas has attempted to suppress!
That's why ARTA is calling for his resignation, and because we know, and studies show, the Adirondack Rail Trail is the way to go.