To the editor:
The following letter has been sent, via email and hard copy, to state Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens, Department of Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald, the Deputy Secretary for Transportation Karen Rae and Deputy Secretary for Environment Basil Seggos:
Recognizing the challenge your departments are facing by trying to appease both factions in the "rails vs.trails" debate, the Adirondack Carousel, a 501(c)3 organization, feels it needs to express its concerns on the subject. Saranac Lake's newest fun attraction, the Adirondack Carousel (in operation for two years), is a full-size carousel with 24 hand-carved animals indigenous to our great Adirondack Park. A significant number of our ridership comes directly from the Adirondack Scenic Railroad and its north end operations (Lake Placid-Saranac Lake). The carousel is located at 2 Depot St. in the William Morris Park, a very short walk (half a block) from the Saranac Lake train station.
Our application for a New York state parks and historic preservation grant included the fact we were close to the train station and that it would increase our ability to draw visitors from Lake Placid to Saranac Lake and direct business downtown into the village. New York state awarded the Adirondack Carousel $340,000 toward the $1.4 million it cost to construct the carousel pavilion and purchase the mechanicals for the carousel. The day we opened our doors on Memorial Day two years ago, we were debt free and, through much-appreciated volunteer efforts, remain debt free today.
The economic impact of the potential loss of that ridership would be devastating to our annual budget and seriously threaten our ability to remain open. Any disruption in the Adirondack Scenic Railroad north end operations, whether permanent or temporary, long term or short term, would affect our ability to attract riders, while reducing costs. As experienced business persons, our Board of Directors recognize that any change to the current unit management plan, even opening it for further review, would start a lengthy litigious journey of many years of hearings, decisions, appeals, lawsuits, planning, construction, etc., before either side could judge the resulting economic impact. The Adirondack Carousel feels strongly that it would not be able to survive during that period.
Thank you for taking the time to consider our position.
President, board of the Adirondack Carousel