Saranac Lake Members of the Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates (ARTA) are asking the Saranac Lake Village Board to support their plans for a 90-mile Great Adirondack Recreation Trail between Old Forge and Lake Placid.
ARTA Board member Lee Keet, of Saranac Lake, gave a presentation to the Village Board Monday, July 23 during its regular meeting at the Harrietstown Town Hall, pitching the benefits of the trail.
“Businesses in the downtown would benefit the most,” Keet said. “Saranac Lake would be one of the principal beneficiaries because we’re right on the nexus between the railroad and the bike path.”
ARTA was formed in 2011 to create a world-class recreation trail — a rail trail — along the railroad corridor between Old Forge and Lake Placid. That would mean tearing up most of the railroad tracks between the two communities, an idea that has drawn stiff opposition from supporters of the Adirondack Scenic Railroad (ASR), which operates tourist train rides in the Old Forge area and the 9 miles between Saranac Lake and Lake Placid. ASR also uses the entire length of the rail line in the spring and fall to transport its train to and from the Lake Placid depot.
Furthermore, ARTA’s initial project — implementing a rail trail from Lake Placid to Tupper Lake — is in direct conflict with the Next Stop! Tupper Lake group, which is currently raising funds to rebuild the tracks between Tupper Lake and Saranac Lake in hopes of extending the Adirondack Scenic Railroad operations to Tupper Lake, establishing a 34-mile tourist train between that community and Lake Placid.
ARTA Board members concede that the tourist train between Lake Placid and Saranac Lake will continue, as the town of North Elba will soon be building a recreation trail next to the railroad tracks between the two villages. Money has been secured for the construction, and bids are currently being solicited for the first phase of the project between Lake Placid and Ray Brook.