To the editor:
While the rail enthusiasts wax poetic about their beloved train, we are losing millions of dollars. While the Adirondack Scenic Railroad monopolizes the rail corridor, it prevents its use by a large and growing population of other recreational users. Don't take my word for it; just check out these links and see for yourself: www.outdoorindustry.org/images/researchfiles/OIA.OutdoorRecEconomyReport2012.pdf, www.huffingtonpost.com/david-kroodsm/The-future-of-travel-bicy_b_779117.html and, soon to be released, "2012 Economic Impact of Snowmobiles in NY" showing $866 million in economic impact. These reports were not done by ARTA (Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates), but they are very telling indications of where we should be headed. If our communities are serious about courting recreational users, then we better get going. "Time's a wastin'," as the song goes.
There is a massive group of baby boomers who are retiring and taking to recreational pursuits. They are looking to keep fit, and they are willing to travel to do it. Many of these folks will buy second homes in areas that provide access to this type of amenity. They are thinking about places where they can recreate with their grandchildren safely. If we build it, they WILL come.
There is a growing contingent of young families looking to get away from their urban homes to a place where they can enjoy the outdoors with their children safely. If we build it, they WILL come.
There is a tremendous group of snowmobilers just itching to ride to Tupper and beyond, as well as those in the Tri Lakes who are aching to go south to explore that area. If we build it, they WILL come.
There are more than 200,000 campers at Rollins Pond and Fish Creek who could ride to Tupper Lake to visit the Wild Center, shop and/or swim at the beach. If we build it, they WILL come.
While I give the railroad folk credit for their enthusiasm, dedication and hard work, there is no way that they can make the same economic impact that a recreation trail will. They know it; their own study by Stone Consulting told them as much. That is why they are clinging to the potential of shipping manufactured goods or raw materials out of the Park on the train. But who is going to do that? And what exactly are they going to ship? The Adirondack Scenic Railroad runs a tourist operation, not a freight operation. Class III service will be necessary to run real passenger service and freight service. A private railroad company would need to step up and operate the railroad. Winter service as a passenger train from Utica would also have to be run by a private operator and would prevent snowmobile use on the tracks. If it was viable, then a private rail company would be clamoring to operate. Where are they?
If you agree, then please go to our website, www.thearta.org, and sign our petition. Let's "get 'er done!"
ARTA Board of Directors