Three cheers for our mayor and the hundreds of volunteers, contributors
In 1998, Camoin Associates met with the town and village leaders of Tupper Lake, interested community groups and public, to establish planning meetings and long term goals for our community.
Two of the several ideas that came out of these meetings were committees to explore the concept of construction of what is now called the Wild Center and another to explore a train station in Tupper Lake to coincide with the 1996 State Unit Management Plan to rehabilitate the railroad tracks from Remsen to Lake Placid.
Committees of interested persons were formed and Jim Ellis and I happened to be on both committees.
In the summer of 2000, some of the largest washouts were filled and the railroad track made possible between Thendara and Lake Placid through federal and state grant monies administered by the state Department of Transportation.
In the course of three months, over 14,000 cubic yards of fill repaired 16 minor and four major washouts. On Aug. 28, 2000, after 20 years, the first train was able to arrive in Lake Placid.
By March 2001, plans were pretty well completed and property was purchased for the railroad station completely by community fundraisers and private donations. At that time, town of Altamont (now Tupper Lake) Supervisor Dean Lefebvre, Mayor Mark Arsenault, Councilwoman Beth Bierwirth, Trustee Ben Peets, town Administrator Sandra Strader, village Clerk Joanne Wilber, Dan McClelland and Dan Mecklenburg met with David Whitmore of Congressman John McHugh’s staff, Assemblywoman Betty Little, and Sen. Ron Stafford and meetings were held in Albany with the governor’s staff.
Jim Frenette a director of the Adirondack Railroad Preservation Society and a member of “Next Stop Tupper Lake” obtained some of the century old plans of the original building.
Then came Sept. 11, 2001, and most of the country’s DOT money went to airport security instead of the promised railroad track rehabilitation.
In July 2004, groundbreaking began for the Wild Center and the town of Altamont changed its name to the town of Tupper Lake.
In September 2005:, concrete flooring was poured at the railroad station with in-floor heating with volunteers including Dick Garrelts, Dan Mecklenburg, Dan McClelland, Ben Peets, Bill Delair, Tom LaMere, Jim Frenette and others.
In November 2009, a grand opening of Next Stop Tupper Lake was held with a Christmas tree contest, Xmas Delight Party, and Model Railroad Show.
Our Mayor Paul Maroun is completely aware that the train station’s local fundraising and donations of over $300,000 was accomplished by our local citizens, and not one penny of taxpayer funding was involved.
Also thousands of hours of volunteer work were involved in the train station construction, maintenance, and upkeep. This represents the support of at least three-quarters of the village and town population.
It is unfortunate that a few younger board members, trustees, councilmen, and the village code enforcement officer seem to ignore that climate change is taking place. They hope that the phenomena of lake effect snow caused by northwest winds passing over the Great Lakes and dumping snow on Tugg Hill Plateau towns of Old Forge, Boonville, and Lawville, will also occur off Raquette Lake and bring thousands of snowmobilers to town.
It’s also amazing that a few local businesses have signed onto this dream, and would like railroad tracks tore up.
Next Stop Tupper Lake wishes to thank Mayor Paul Maroun as well as Tupper Lake Supply, Fortune Hardware store, the Sunshine Store and the hundreds of volunteers who have helped construct our station for the arrival of mass transit to the North Country by way of the Adirondack Railroad – rain or shine, sleet or snow.
Dan Mecklenburg lives in Tupper Lake and is the vice president of Next Stop Tupper Lake.