Scenic railroad leaders have failed

To the editor:

The Adirondack Railway Preservation Society leadership needs to step down. Not just one person, all of them. They have proven themselves incapable of handling both a railroad operation as well as handling the complicated political maneuvering required to maintain the corridor. In this aspect they have failed the charter and the spirit of the origination. In my time with the organization, I have seen constant infighting between management and the Board of Directors as well as a repetitive list of abusive, self-serving management, mostly labeled as “road foremen of engines,” “superintendents of operations,” “general managers” or “executive directors” who seem to maintain their power and political agendas through executive sessions and back-room deals with certain members of the board while the people who are working the operation day in and day out, and are responsible for holding it together, are simply vilified, marginalized, gossiped about and then ultimately terminated from employment.

The volunteer base, the lifeblood of this operation, has also been marginalized. Promotion to higher ranks has grown difficult to impossible as certain management tend to play favorites versus looking at the real-world competence of the volunteers. When these decisions are questioned, the persons questioning these decisions are instantly vilified as “rabble rousing, incapable of getting along with others, and too young to be safe operators” as well as other false pretexts. Meanwhile, the same management members make it known that they’d rather have paid crews and no volunteers.

The volunteer base has stood with this operation through thick and thin, through years of incompetent, borderline corrupt management in its various forms. The volunteers have also been faced with a decaying physical plant, poor decision making, management changing the rules, and lack of communication regarding the sensitive political issues regarding the survival of the corridor.

The Adirondack Railway Preservation Society has truly failed in its mission to preserve and operate the entire corridor from Utica to Lake Placid. This is not the fault of the volunteers; this is the fault of the management. Management should step down immediately, and ARPS itself, as a failed organization, needs to disband. The issues that the corridor is currently facing could have been solved years ago with better planning and rising to understand the threat that both opening the unit management plan and the various trail organizations were pushing for. Instead, the board has chosen, through inaction, to reach our current juncture at a time when the political landscape in New York state is not conducive to any progress and whoever presents the most money to the governor’s office wins.

Unfortunately, both the corridor as well as ARPS have ran their course and now are presented with the endgame scenario. Losing a major, revenue-generating section of the corridor as well as putting the designated operator out to bid is the direct result of long-term irresponsibility as well as mismanagement.

Jason Markowitz

New York City