I always figured that among intelligent people, common sense might prevail over special-interest groups. However, we see how New York state can spend millions of dollars to make the state's land non-accessible to the average citizen during this time of local and national economic upheaval, or how one Tupper Lake summer resident and two other summer residents who have sold their property in the Adirondacks can join two out-of-"Park" extremist groups in an attempt to prevent a hundreds of million dollar project here in Tupper Lake which would vastly improve the ecology of our mountain and the economy of the area. How can this handful of people attempt to override numerous organizations' and countless individuals' letters of support, as well as an almost unanimous decision of the Adirondack Park Agency? How can our judicial system allow such nonsense?
On Monday, Nov. 19, my wife and I attended the village of Tupper Lake board meeting as enthused Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates members presented their agenda to tear up the railroad tracks. We had heard the ARTA presentations at other times and found Hope Frenette and Chris Keniston much more practiced and refined in presenting their colored flip charts. It appeared that both actually believed the distortions and half-truths being presented in this bought-and-paid-for study.
It is my understanding that one or more wealthy property owners with the railroad tracks running through their backyards (who don't want increased traffic of trains, snowmobiles, walkers, bicycles, cross-country skiers, wheelchairs or anything else in their backyard) would like to have these tracks torn up. In Tupper Lake, I happen to have the "Brooklyn Cooperage Railroad" right of way run 1,000 feet across my property as part of its 7-mile logging spur, built in 1900 and shut down in 1904. Removal of these tracks in 1904 legally challenges this right of way.
With the continued and increasing success of the northern end of the Adirondack Scenic Railroad - which is proud of 2012, the most successful year of operation - I suspect elements in Lake Placid realized that some passengers were leaving Lake Placid on the train and spending some money in Saranac Lake. Ah-ha! Tear up the tracks!
Result, pool your money and hire an engineering study group to concoct a study that has the end result of tearing up the tracks. Blend snowmobiles, wheelchairs, bicycles, cross-country skiers, walkers and possibly ATVs in the mixture. Add ARTA to this study for appeal to the bicyclers and to assist in providing super-inflated economic impact figures. (Note: In other parts of the country, multi-use trails run alongside tracks.)
At no time did this group or the "study" consider the idea of a trail beside the tourist railroad. Even when a grant was successfully applied for building a multi-use trail beside the tracks between Saranac Lake and Lake Placid, this group resisted this idea. They continue to advocate for removal of the tracks along the entire rail bed south to the Old Forge area.
As the Adirondack Scenic Railroad is finally making a success of itself, expanding its services and more positively affecting local economies during this otherwise poor national state of affairs, ARTA appears to be more frantic in its efforts to tear up the tracks. They refuse to make independent efforts to build multi-use trails on any existing railroad beds that already have had tracks removed, or work on or even show an interest in a trail parallel to or alongside the tracks in the railroad corridor.
What happened to the multi-use trail proposal between the Tupper Lake Junction station and Uptown along the old New York and Ottawa tracks? I'm sure the village would welcome ARTA's financial support and expertise toward this historic trail, which has been mapped for years by Barton & Loguidice, P.C., engineers, planners and landscape architects.
In ARTA's village board presentation, several times Mr. Keniston mentioned tearing up the tracks from Lake Placid to Old Forge. I raised my hand to comment that the tracks on the main-line Adirondack Scenic Railroad do not run to Old Forge. A siding that ran to Old Forge was torn up in 1932. The tracks he was referring to run from Thendara at milepost 57.93 to Carter at milepost 64.12 to Big Moose at milepost 69.32 and onward through Beaver River, Nehasane, Horseshoe, Tupper Lake, Lake Clear, Saranac Lake and Lake Placid. The tracks to Big Moose have been rebuilt this summer to Class III operation at more than a million-dollar expense. I hope Mr. Keniston isn't proposing to tear up this brand-new work. Plans are currently under way to improve the tracks between Big Moose and Saranac Lake in the near future so that regular Adirondack Scenic Railroad tourist trains, as well as special Pullman trains, can run on them. We will also be working on an improved ticket area in our Next Stop Tupper Lake depot and on finishing the platform between the station and the tracks for this operation.
I raised my hand at the meeting and was informed that I could not comment during his misinformation presentation but should wait until it was over. It would take at least 45 minutes to refute his presentation point by point.
Chiprle and I have ridden on 30-plus tourist and short-line railroads around the country and on Via Rail across Canada and Amtrak across the U.S. and have never been on anything but a nearly packed train.
I have been involved with the museum and Next Stop Tupper Lake since the original town and village planning meetings with Camoin Associates in 1998, when action was recommended. We have been involved with the Next Stop Tupper Lake station in its design, fundraising and hands-on construction, and can say that no government funding was involved. We have also helped in numerous fundraisers.
We also belong to and participate in the New York Central System Historical Society, and I am a member of Adirondack Railway Preservation Society board of directors.
I know firsthand much of what is contained in this letter; it is very much in the interest of Tupper Lake specifically and the entire region in general.
Daniel C. Mecklenburg lives in Tupper Lake.