Post-Star needs to check facts

To the editor: How relaxing it must be for the Post-Star editorial staff to critique efforts at economic development from the sidelines offering highly simplistic overviews regarding very complicated situations. Such is the case with the June 27 Post-Star editorial regarding Warren Countys approach to rail funding which essentially accuses the Board of Supervisors of fraud in pursuing grants to establish a rail connection from North Creek to Saratoga Springs. Having reached its conclusion that the project has already failed, the editors ignore consistently any fact whatever that does not support their conclusion. In so doing, the Post Star fails the public by not accurately covering the details of the project and fails itself quite miserably by abdicating its role as truth seeker for the vastly easier one of ill-informed combatant. The Post Star declared the following in their June 27 editorial: 1) Adirondack tourism in not enhanced by the project. 2) Skiers are not riding the rails from downstate locations. 3) Tourist line operations have failed to attract significant numbers. 4) Not enough destinations exist in the North Country to satisfy riders. 5) The grant application itself was ill advised. How about shining a light on these unsupported assertions? During 2007, 13,751 tourists visited North Creek over a mere 7-day period to enjoy the Thomas the Tank Engine event. In 2006, the same event attracted 17,843 visitors. In terms of annual ridership, 11,372 tourists rode the line in 2007 and 15,491 rode in 2006. How did I secure these Woodward-and-Bernstein breakthrough statistics? I called the train operator and asked for the numbers. Moreover, the above numbers do not even consider the economic ripple effect that the train causes local businesses. These include restaurants, retail operations and motels which incidentally spin back some of those dollars for reinvestment via the bed tax. The Post-Star editoral also fails to acknowledge that the connection between the Saratoga Station and the northern line is not complete. We now stand on the cusp of this connection. Of course downstate skiers are not flocking to the train it doesn't reach them yet! Perhaps most alarming in the Post-Star's editorial is the failure to acknowledge the synergy between the rail line and massive improvements at Gore Mountain Ski Area. With already approved buildout, Gore in the next year or two will become the eighth largest ski facility east of the Mississippi. To be accurate, the Post-Star has never fully understood the significance of Gore Mountain to the regional economy. In point of fact, Gore is an economic powerhouse for all of Warren County and several surrounding counties. Last year, Gore enjoyed 238,000 skier visits. Gore is a first-rate ski facility now interconnected to a struggling Adirondack hamlet that will be benefitted by an operational rail line linked to downstate population centers. What the Post-Star irresponsibly calls "a sleight of hand" by county leaders may in fact be part of the solution for an Adirondack economy that has I submit been hit harder than most by the recent economic downturn. To be sure, the project is vastly behind schedule and is frustrating at times given the layers of bureaucracy required to get the job done. There are legal and political complexities and engineering challenges. As one of the "politicians" criticized I would stand in support of a unilateral legislative elimination of earmarks, member items and pork. Until that happens however, I will compete on behalf of my community for all funds available. A person who passed through North Creek just over 100 years ago once argued that "it is not the critic who counts...or how the doer of deeds might have done better." Teddy Roosevelt went on to add that "the credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena...who if he wins knows the triumph of high achievement; and who, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly." No doubt, the Post-Star editorial staff doesn't care much for the arena. That's where facts can't be ignored. That's where public debate leads to policy decisions, not coffee-club chat. The Post-Star is obligated to cover the arena and quite frankly, we deserve better. Sterling T. Goodspeed Supervisor, Town of Johnsburg

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