Press-Republican

Local News

February 13, 2013

Tupper asks DOT to evaluate railroad use

(Continued)

TUPPER LAKE —

That resolution joins similar measures approved in the towns of Harrietstown and Tupper Lake and the Village of Saranac Lake.

DOT did not respond to numerous Press-Republican requests in the past week seeking its position on reopening the Unit Management Plan.

‘CRITICAL CROSSROADS’

The dissenting Tupper Lake Village vote was cast by Mayor Paul Maroun, who is concerned that public review could render the route inaccessible to motorized traffic forever.

Tupper Lake is at a critical railroad-corridor crossroads, he said, with work planned for a major resort development here.

The railroad long supported the timber industry in Tupper Lake, he observed in a recent interview.

“There is a strong possibility that, if you open the UMP up, then the Lake Placid-Remsen line could become ‘no motor vehicle access’ wilderness land. It’s been so long since DOT reviewed the plan, and nothing has happened. Why now? Shared use for recreational trails beside the tracks is already in the Unit Management Plans.”

Maroun said that if DOT abandons the rails, then the land could eventually revert back to wilderness, erasing the thin connector route that is the Lake Placid-Remsen travel corridor.

‘DIVISIVE DEBATE’

Several other user groups already have plans in motion.

With permits in hand, the Adirondack North Country Association is seeking matching funds to build a rail-with-trail project beside the tracks from Lake Placid to Saranac Lake.

The North Country Economic Development Council has made revitalizing railroads throughout the entire region a priority in order to improve commerce and transportation.

And, Maroun said, potential investment from Iowa Pacific for through traffic to New York City a “huge” prospect.

Meantime, he said, the debate between user groups has gotten divisive, as they cannot agree on which economic indicators to use.

Copies of the Village Board’s resolution asking DOT to revisit the railroad corridor were sent to DOT, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the Department of Environmental Conservation, Adirondack Park Agency and local lawmakers, Maroun said.

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