To the editor:
Because of the controversy generated by the rail-vs.-trail debate and its continued interest fueled by Enterprise Guest Commentaries and letters to the editor, there has been a backlog of opinion pieces awaiting publication in the Enterprise that would certainly clarify reader concern after Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates officials continue to post mistruths and gross distortions on assorted sidebars to the main issue.
Obviously writer Richard Maid fell into the misled public category when his commentary of Feb. 20 shared his bafflement over "recent revelations about the Adirondack Scenic Railroad." I am sure Mr. Maid would never have written his piece had he read the rebuttal entitled "... the rest of the story," which clearly shows these charges were purposely taken out of context, and referenced problems from three years ago that were long since corrected and lauded by the outside accounting firm.
Among the items misconstrued is reference to "taxpayer subsidies" received by ASR, when in fact all ASR received is direct reimbursement for corridor maintenance performed by the tenant (ASR) for the landlord (New York State Department of Transportation), standard in most all leases. The $1.5 million "subsidy" is a direct pass-through from the federal government through NYSDOT and ASR to the Pennsylvania contractor which completed a five-year project from Carter Station to Big Moose, for which ASR did not get one penny.
Further distortions are claims of low ridership, despite 23,000 north-end riders in 2012, and on track for even higher volume in 2013, until a radical anti-train zealot, no doubt inspired by ARTA's rhetoric, sabotaged an ASR locomotive, causing a loss of 11 local operating days this last season.
In addition, Mr. Maid incorrectly states that a unit management plan corridor review is 13 years overdue and wonders why someone isn't held accountable, when in fact it is Mr. Maid who should be held accountable for getting his facts straight. The original 1996 UMP allowed that the corridor use MAY be revisited every five years, as opposed to MUST be revisited. Why would the DOT revisit this UMP when there are still numerous other ones awaiting an initial review for a DOT operating short-handed because of budget constraints? What is overdue for 18 years is the long-term lease for ASR, as was recommended in the 1996 plan, along with a state-sponsored network of connecting trails to major points of interest along the span. Instead, they have had to operate under a 30-day revocable lease all these years, which of course stifles any outside private investors waiting in the wings.
What is baffling to me is why a group of well-meaning community activists seeking something better for their local environment would form a responsible organization (ARTA), create a well-oiled marketing plan, and then abandon all those principles and suddenly resort to these distortions when they found out their plan of trails closely coincides with that of both the original UMP and the plan of the Adirondack Scenic Railroad, which seeks to share this treasure trove of natural beauty with all?
Wayne W. Tucker
Board member and Executive Committee member
Adirondack Scenic Railroad