TUPPER LAKE - Village Mayor Paul Maroun put off a vote on petitioning the state to open the unit management plan for the Adirondack Scenic Railroad corridor.
The vote wasn't on the agenda for the regular village board meeting Monday night, but Trustee Rick Donah offered a resolution on the topic up for a vote. It asks the state departments of Transportation and Environmental Conservation to review and update the UMP for the state-owned rail corridor, which runs from Remsen through from Thendara, near Old Forge, to Lake Placid.
Donah said he believes the state needs to weigh in on the controversy since it has the final say in what happens there. Opening the UMP will give all the stakeholders an opportunity to have a fair say in the use of the corridor, he said.
Tupper Lake village Trustee Rick Donah talks about how it’s a shame that Tupper Lakers are butting heads on the use of the Adirondack Scenic Railroad corridor.
(Enterprise photo — Jessica Collier)
"Tupper Lake's in a difficult position, so we have to look at different options," Donah said. "We should be supporting discussion and moving these things forward."
Trustee Tom Snyder moved to pass the resolution, and another trustee seconded it when Maroun interrupted.
"We're going to lay this aside until the next meeting so I have time to study it further, and we'll debate it at the next meeting," Maroun said. "Next issue."
When Donah questioned that, Maroun said he did the same for Donah at a recent meeting. When a topic was brought up at the board's November meeting that Donah wasn't familiar with, the issue was tabled so Donah could learn more before voting on it.
As a vocal supporter of the railroad, Maroun is familiar with this issue, and there has been plenty of discussion on it, said Hope Frenette, a member of the Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates board of directors.
"I'm very disappointed that you tabled it, Paul," Frenette said. "You owe it to the community to step up to the plate. ... You've had plenty of time to study it. You've had plenty of conversations with me."
"Now we know it's going to be voted on next month," Maroun said. "I don't think there's anything wrong with that."
Maroun said he believes people don't realize potential downsides of opening up the UMP. He said it could lead to the entire corridor being shut down.
Gary Beaudette, the leader of the Tupper Lake Snowmobile Club, said he was told by DOT representatives that isn't an option, since it's a travel corridor.
Ron LaScala said the recent announcement by railroad officials that the Adirondack Rail Preservation Society has an agreement to offer Pullman car service from New York City to Lake Placid isn't going to help Tupper Lake. It won't stop until it gets to Lake Placid, so it won't bring any business into Tupper.
"What's going to bring us business is that trail," LaScala said.
LaScala said Tupper Lake hasn't seen any benefits from the railroad.
"Enough's enough," LaScala said. "They've had 20-some-odd years to do it, and they're not doing anything. ... I want to see some business flourish here, and it's not happening."
Frenette challenged Maroun and other board members to talk to business people in Tupper Lake about which option they want.
"I've talked to them up and down the street, and this is what they want," Frenette said.
Donah said he's spent a lot of time thinking about the corridor. He works closely with many rail supporters from Next Stop Tupper Lake through the Tupper Lake Chamber of Commerce and in other aspects of his life. He said he doesn't want to offend those people, but he believes this is something that needs to be done.
"Being in business in this town and trying to make a living in Tupper Lake is a very hard proposition, and you see businesses closing on a daily basis here," Donah said. "So we need to do something to attract more people here, and more businesses to this community. And sticking our head in the sand is not the answer. So that's why I'm bringing this to the table.
"I don't necessarily want to be the spokesperson for it. That's not my role. My role is to try to make a living in this town and support the community and the taxpayers. But no one else seems to want to do it, so I brought it to the table today, and I'll bring it back next month."
Contact Jessica Collier at 891-2600 ext. 26 or email@example.com.