North Elba: Tear up the RR tracks

An Adirondack Scenic Railroad train pulls into the Lake Placid train station from Saranac Lake.

An Adirondack Scenic Railroad train pulls into the Lake Placid train station from Saranac Lake. Photo by Andy Flynn.

— To date, the Council has favored refurbishing the railroad tracks from Old Forge to Lake Placid so it can be used for tourist excursions and possibly freight. Two members of the Council — Adirondack North Country Association Executive Director Kate Fish and North Country Chamber of Commerce President Garry Douglas (who co-chairs the Council) — have publicly backed the railroad project. Both attended the Next Stop! Tupper Lake launch of the “On Track to Saranac” campaign in November 2011, giving speeches to the crowd and lauding the railroad’s economic impact to the region.

“Do you think this resolution is going to make a difference?” Politi asked.

“I don’t expect them to change their decision, “Miller said. “My hope is that the state will receive this and say, ‘Yes, finally somebody stood up and told us what we already know. We’re wasting money here. We’re wasting time and money.’ ... I know that we’re not going to be the only government entity that’s going to be discussing this. And my hope is the other towns and villages will do the same, the state will listen and take out the tracks.”

The $4.5 million price tag associated with building a recreational path between Lake Placid and Saranac Lake next to the tracks — as opposed to removing the tracks and building the path where the tracks were previously located — is higher than Miller would like to see.

“As a fiscal conservative, I just think what we’re doing is wasteful,” Miller said.

The resolution was seconded by Councilman Favro, who seemed as though he was going to vote against the resolution during the discussion.

“I don’t want to stop momentum,” Favro said, adding that maybe the town should wait until the bike path construction gets started before advocating for removal of the tracks.

Miller said he respectfully disagreed with Favro that the town should wait to take a stance.

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