What's next? Officials ponder rail-trail study

Rabideau says that's not a good return investment.

"It's not a good bargain to spend between $400,000 and $500,000 for one permanent job," he said. "I appreciate the fact that we have facts. And it's good to have facts as we debate what's best for this byway. But we have to be realistic - there's not $10 million out there and there's not $14 million out there. We have to work with what we have, which is virtually nothing."

Paul Maroun represents Tupper Lake on the Franklin County Board of Legislators. He says upgrading the corridor isn't just about job creation.

"What you're talking about, if you're going to upgrade the rail or put in a path, is tourists who are going to come in and spend," he said. "It's not just about creating jobs - it's about getting people in here. No one is talking about these projects just in terms of creating jobs."

For Maroun, the potential for commuter rail service all the way to Utica can't be underplayed. Two years ago, officials with the state Department of Transportation told Maroun that for $17.5 million, the entire rail corridor from Lake Placid to Utica could be rehabbed.

"Everybody thinks that's funny - until you start seeing five dollars for a gallon of gas," he said.

And while Wolff is looking for local leaders to collaborate and make a decision based on the study, North Elba Supervisor Roby Politi says his town has already made its determination.

"We've got funding, and unless something changes in the immediate future, we intend to use those funds to construct a bike path beside the rail corridor all the way to Ray Brook," he said.

Not only is North Elba prepared to use its state funding to build a recreational path, Politi also says the necessary permits are forthcoming from the state Adirondack Park Agency.

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