To the editor:
I thought I was a struggling small business owner (currently with near 400 other businesses in resolution of support) with a good effort to create an important new venue, important to our collective economy and quality of life. Now I hear, from the Adirondack Scenic Railroad executive's commentary, I'm a special-interest elitist! I would be interested to know when, in 10-plus years of this effort, this happened?
Having started grooming for snowmobilers on the corridor in the '70s at our family's expense, we found it an invaluable asset to our business. We were ecstatic when the camp owners formed a snowmobile club and became sanctioned by the New York State Snowmobile Association, helping immensely to expand the effort. So you may understand my surprise to hear that keeping the corridor open through ice storms, winter winds and culvert breaches has ALL been done by the railroad.
Historically, the corridor lost financial viability in the 1940s. Industry and transportation no longer needed a railroad, and losing the U.S. Mail was the final nail. I remember two trains a day in each direction running empty and our place being closed all winter until snowmobiles in the '60s started running the tracks between the weekly freights.
Now we are working with ARTA, the Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates, started by a group of all Adirondack residents, with more than 12,000 supporters, several municipal governments and hundreds of local businesses, in an effort critical to our business and potentially a dramatic transformation to the year-round economy of an entire region. We know what snowmobile tourism has done in our area and how much greater it could be. The experiences of other areas show bicycle and other trail recreations could easily eclipse that.
Please write: Raymond Hessinger, director, Freight and Passenger Rail, New York State Department of Transportation, 50 Wolf Road, POD 54, Albany NY 12232, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.