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Don’t throw good money after bad

July 30, 2012
Adirondack Daily Enterprise

To the editor:

Saranac Lake Mayor Clyde Rabideau:

I've read a couple of stories recently where you are quoted supporting the Adirondack railroad. I won't go into all of the arguments for removing the train tracks in favor of a rail trail; I'm sure you've seen them all. But let me please urge you to reconsider some of the recent comments you've made.

1. You're quoting as saying you're concerned about taking out the railroad tracks from Saranac Lake to Tupper Lake "because the Tupper Lakers have put a lot of their resources into the concept of rail." There is a concept in economics called "sunk costs," or retrospective (past) costs that have already been incurred and cannot be recovered. In traditional microeconomic theory, only prospective (future) costs are relevant to an investment decision. In other words, don't throw good money against bad. Plan for your community's future; don't get trapped into rationalizing the mistakes of the past.

2. You recently supported a decision to start up a free bus service to shuttle train riders into the village. While you may not have paid for the bus, you will be paying for the gas, insurance and wear and tear on your village streets - not to mention having an old bus plastered with advertisements clogging your streets and polluting your air with diesel fumes and noise. And for what? A few train riders for a few months during the year? I don't care how many volunteers the train enthusiasts keep throwing at this problem; the train is a failed enterprise that continues to suck taxpayer dollars our of our pockets.

Please raise these issues at your meetings, and don't let a handful of train supporters block the Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates' attempt to bring a vibrant new breed of tourists to your area. The year-round economic potential of the trail far exceeds the negative economic and environmental impact the railroad is having on the Adirondacks and the state. Why not spend your money on bike racks in front of businesses, where they'll be needed for all those new tourists? No bus needed.

Thank you,

James Houghtaling


P.S.: If they build it, we will come:



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