NORTH CREEK - The Johnsburg Town Board approved a motion Tuesday night to put pressure on the Warren County Board of Supervisors to appoint a train operator for the current Upper Hudson River Railroad operation in North Creek.
The contract for Reigel, the current operator, will expire at the end of this year and a request for proposals (RFP) has been issued with a deadline of Oct. 27. If a new operator is not assigned soon, there may not be time to plan next year's trips and North Creek faces the loss of its train.
Upper Hudson River Railroad ran its last tourist train ride for the season Sunday. Local residents and business owners alike hope it will not be the last North Creek sees of its train. Concerned citizens filled Tuesday's board meeting to voice concern regarding the negative economic impact the absence of a train would have on the regional community.
"The train has a huge economic impact on this region," said Gore Mountain Region Chamber of Commerce president Dave Bulmer. "It is important that we work together to push the county to make a decision as quickly as possible."
The train attracts thousands of visitors to the Gore Mountain Region yearly and has spurred such annual events as Race the Train, Ales on Rails, visits from Thomas the Tank Engine and many others. Warren County estimates the Thomas event alone provides a $840,000 economic impact to the region.
Hit Entertainment, owner of Thomas the Tank Engine, usually seeks a multiple year contract around Jan. 1 and without a new operator, the region would lose the event indefinitely.
"Train traffic is extremely important to this and the surrounding communities," said Joel Beaudin, owner of the Copperfield Inn in North Creek. "We need it to enhance our businesses, our town an our county as a whole."