The Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates has formally filed a request with three state agencies asking for review of the unit management plan that governs the use of the rail corridor between Lake Placid and Old Forge.
ARTA said in a press release that it submitted a letter Sunday to the state departments of Environmental Conservation and Transportation and the Adirondack Park Agency, "pressing for an immediate review of the 1995 management plan for the corridor." According to the UMP, such reviews were supposed to take place in 2001, 2006 and 2012, but never did.
Officials at DEC, DOT and APA could not be reached for comment as of press time this morning.
The UMP was completed in 1996 and is required to be revisited every five years. The plan currently allows for the operation of a tourist train, which is operated between Lake Placid and Saranac Lake by the Adirondack Scenic Railroad. A large portion of the railroad, between Saranac Lake and Old Forge, would need major upgrades to allow regular rail service.
"Time is of the essence, as the review called for in the Plan is 13 years past-due," ARTA's letter reads. "There are now numerous studies showing the lost economic benefits accruing the longer the corridor remains substantially unused, and the Plan no longer adequately addresses the environmental impacts of the 'preferred alternative,' given the significant changes in the 18 years since the Plan was developed.
"A review of the Plan is a prerequisite to all economic development in the corridor, including, for example, our organization or others being able to seek funding for recreational development along the corridor."
The letter is signed by ARTA President Joe Mercurio.
Several municipalities and one property owners group along the corridor have passed resolutions asking the state to reopen the UMP: the villages of Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake; the towns of Tupper Lake, Webb and Harrietstown; and the Beaver River Property Owners Association. Others have asked for the state to remove the rails, including the village of Lake Placid, the towns of North Elba, Piercefield and Colton, St. Lawrence County and the New York State Snowmobile Association.
Contact Chris Morris at 891-2600 ext. 25 or firstname.lastname@example.org.