Rail trail plan remains vague

To the editor:

The Trails with Rails Action Committee is strongly critical of the Department of Environmental Conservation’s recently released draft conceptual plan for the proposed Adirondack Rail Trail that is still awaiting a legal determination in court. TRAC is a citizen group made up of local and statewide residents and visitors who believe the active use of the corridor for both recreation and rail transportation is the most forward thinking alternative that could be advanced by the state of New York.

In an email to our supporters, I have urged stakeholders throughout the state to write public comment letters “to express your concern that this plan lacks the necessary detail to make the proposed trail legal, safe, and successful.”

We have enumerated the plan’s shortcomings on our website (http://www.trailswithrails.org/press.html), including that the plan remains vague on: cost to taxpayers and local governments, how dangerous user conflicts will be resolved, how adjacent landowners can have a voice in the process, how communities will be affected by faster snowmobile speeds later into the night, how invasive species will be kept out of extensive wetlands along the route, and how the state plans to mitigate the loss of the historic resources in the corridor, including those of archaeological significance.

We believe that the plan to remove the rails from the northern 34 miles of the corridor is a statewide issue due to the taxpayer dollars involved and the geographic, economic, historical and ecological connections along the route. The entire corridor is affected by this plan, yet no public meetings are planned outside of the Tri-Lakes region of the Adirondacks. Utica, for instance, acts as a hub where the interstate, Amtrak, the governor’s new initiative to develop the Empire State Trail, and the railroad line into the Adirondacks all come together, and therefore it would benefit Utica, the state and the Adirondacks to hold public meetings there.

Comprehensive planning — looking at all the socioeconomic and environmental interconnections — with all the diverse groups of stakeholders at the table is the only way to solve complex issues. Anything else just perpetuates divisive misunderstandings.

Sunita Halasz


Saranac Lake