To the editor:
The New York State Snowmobile Association has exclusive use of the railroad corridor from Dec. 1 to May 1, but the state Department of Transportation may use the corridor during this time for emergency inspection, etc.
The Adirondack Scenic Railroad has exclusive use of the railroad corridor from May 2 to Nov. 30, give or take a day or so.
The railroad corridor from Beaver River to Tupper Lake is severely deteriorated and would cost way more than the $45 million expected to rehab the line.
The Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates should stop trying to shut the scenic railroad down but instead prove to the people that a complete rail service is not and never will be feasible.
The business community and elected officials should get behind removing the rails from Tupper Lake to Beaver River to create a world-class trail for everybody to use year-round, which would greatly increase the snowmobile traffic from early November to April. (Now the railroad corridor is only useable for maybe two weeks because of the poor winters, and even the last two winters the rails were only navigable maybe three weeks.) Also, this would make Tupper Lake the northern end trailhead and Beaver River the southern end trailhead.
Now there are two parcels of land, one with a severely deteriorated auto garage and the other vacant right next-door to the Tupper Lake railroad station, that I bet the county would give to the village for cheap or maybe nothing and the Adirondack Scenic Railroad could build a train winter storage building here in Tupper Lake. The ASR could apply for grants if possible to fix the tracks to Saranac Lake and build the train garage.
This is a fair and reasonable solution to the railroad corridor debate, and this could stop the bickering and actually get people working to make this a reality.
P.S.: There are already sufficient trails to Beaver River from the south but not from the north; in fact, the rail corridor is the only way.
There are enough trails to get you to Lake Clear at least, and probably Saranac Lake, to snowmobile on right now from Tupper Lake, and possibly with a little work maybe that could be improved. We know they have grant money for a trail from Lake Placid to Ray Brook and possibly farther to Saranac Lake in the near future, so the trail will be in on this section of the corridor. Maybe the state can use some of the overabundant environmental protection funds to help build a trail in the environmentally sensitive areas instead of buying good, working forest lands to add to the Forest Preserve.
The tourist-based businesses, restaurants, hotels-motels, small engine shops and bicycle sales and rentals should voice their concerns on this issue, since they are the ones most effected by this use or proposed future use of the rail corridor. This is, in my opinion, the best solution to a controversial issue that both sides win with the least amount of environmental impact.
Remember, this will create a northern scenic railroad and a southern scenic railroad with a world-class trail in between.
Gary Beaudette and the Tupper Lake Snowmobile Club