County leaders reverse tourist train project vote

QUEENSBURY Warren County supervisors backtracked Tuesday on derailing the regional tourist train development project, as they reversed an earlier decision not to pay an outstanding engineering bill. With only one No vote, the supervisors voted Tuesday to pay Clough, Harbour & Associates $57,000 for design work on train platforms in Hadley and Thurman. The vote, however, didnt indicate full-throttle support for the tourist train project. The vote was cast under the threat that about $980,000 in state grant funds already committed to the project would be have to be repaid, leaving the county taxpayers to shoulder the sum on their own. Glens Falls Fifth Ward Supervisor William Kenny voted No on the payment Clough Harbour, citing that they'd already been paid to design full stations and platforms at the two sites. County Superintendent of Public Works William Lamy reminded Kenny that the supervisors had changed plans several times since last year on what to construct at the two sites, and engineering work had to be done for each change of plans to fulfill state requirements. The engineers, he said, were seeking the $57,000 for their last six months work plus final designs for the platforms. But Kenny repeated his opposition to the tourist train development project, which he has said in recent months was a burden to taxpayers. How long do you push money over the edge into a black hole before enough is enough, he said. If I had a dollar for every time I was told I we had to spend money to protect grant income, I would have enough cash to buy gas to fill up my gas tank. North Creek Supervisor Sterling Goodspeed, however, recounted the history of the project, and how the state had not come through with a full $2 million to build complete train stations in the two towns.The project had made considerable advances, he said, and in an economic turnaround, the county would have a train bringing tourists into the county for all-season recreation. Looking back after the crisis is over, we will have shown foresight, he said. If you want to stop this train project, this is not the time to stop it Lets put this back on track and protect our investment. The other supervisors, except Kenny, agreed. County supervisors have to this date supported payment of right-of-way acquisition, track improvements and station platform construction, accomplishments that enable a rail line to extend into Saratoga County by this Fall. With cooperation from the supervisors counterparts in Saratoga County, these advances would mean a connection to the Amtrak station in Saratoga Springs, giving tourists from New York City or points west the opportunity to ride a train all the way to destinations in Warren County.

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