ARTA Criticizes Judge’s Rail-Trail Decision

Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates has been a strong voice for converting the rail line between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake into a biking, hiking, and snowmobile trail. Last month, however, Acting State Supreme Court Justice Robert G. Main Jr. ruled that the state’s plan for the rail trail violated the law. On Friday morning, ARTA issued the following news release:

Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates (ARTA) today reaffirmed its support for the compromise
plan approved by the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) and the New York State Departments of
Transportation and Environmental Conservation that called for the creation of an Adirondack Rail
Trail between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake.

The ARTA board, on behalf of the more than 13,000 citizens, 400 businesses, and the seven villages, towns and counties along the corridor who joined in petitioning the State for this important economic growth engine, urges the State to remedy whatever procedural issues have caused the court to invalidate the previously-approved plan for the development of the rail-trail.

We find it inconceivable that the APA erred when approved the 2016 Unit Management Plan. The
1996 Unit Management Plan (UMP) anticipated conversion of some or all of the Remsen-Lake
Placid right of way to recreational uses. The 2016 UMP that did just that. The APA approved both
UMP’s as being consistent with the State Land Use Master Plan (SLMP), a document that it also
drafted. We will be fully supportive if the State chooses to appeal the court decision questioning
that decision and authority.

However, since the major stumbling block to continuing the construction of the Adirondack Rail
Trail is the court’s interpretations of what is a “travel corridor”, we urge the State agencies to clarify
that definition and to reaffirm that poorly or unused rail corridors can be converted to recreational
uses without losing their classification as a travel corridor under the SLMP.

ARTA is urging all of its members, supporters, municipal officials, affected businesses and sister
advocacy groups to join in reaffirming their support for the Adirondack Rail Trail. We will be
calling on our elected officials and on the state agencies involved, as well as on the Governor, to
urge speedy resolution of this temporary setback.

About Phil Brown

Phil Brown edited the Adirondack Explorer from 1999 until his retirement in 2018. He continues to explore the park and to write for the publication and website.

Reader Interactions


  1. Larry Roth says

    Considering that this is a press release from ARTA, it is not surprising that it is full of information that is simply wrong. Their interpretation of the Judge’s ruling glosses over too many inconvenient facts – the errors of law by the state, the title issues it ignored, the blatant disdain for historic preservation. The title issues alone completely invalidate the economic arguments made for the trail, and no tweak to the SLMP will fix that.

    ARTA also wildly overstates support for the trail, and ignores the fact that the trail is still possible IF they accept the presence of the rails. ARTA’s real agenda all along is to get rid of the tracks. They have no intention of accepting the compromise themselves – they continue to make clear they intend to get the tracks removed all the way to Thendara.

    Rather than take ARTA’s word for what the ruling means, read it for yourself and decide. It can be found here:

  2. Chip Ordway says

    Well, boys and girls, we all saw what happened the *first* time that ARTA led NY State by the hand in something that they were spearheading…..will the state fall for it again? Time will tell.

    You didn’t think Daddy Keet and his gang would go quietly, did you?

  3. Scott thompson says

    After large sums of money spent, Saranac Placid found the rail with trail not practical. Army Corps had the final word.No. as the only hospitality business in Beaver River, we would prefer trail Old Forge to Lake Placid.

    • Chip Ordway says

      How long are you guys going to keep pushing this whole thing as some kind of fact? The Engineers *never* said no. They wanted a fee (a couple of grand), which North Elba refused to pay, so that’s where it ended. The APA had already approved the project, but North Elba decided to let it die. Under pressure from certain parties, perhaps? Makes you wonder, right?

      Enough with this farce about the ACE “saying it couldn’t be done”. Building a path through the woods next to a railroad track is quite far from the hardest thing they have ever done, and I personally know some Army engineers that frankly would laugh you right out the door for the line that you keep trying to pass off as fact.

  4. Brian Joseph says

    13,000 citizens, 400 businesses, and seven villages, towns and counties are RIGHT – rip out the tracks!!!

  5. Phawking Treehuggers says

    What a waste the ASR is. No one uses the lame ass ASR. Rip up the rails and lets use it as a multi uses age trail already. How come all these phawking tree hungers aren’t worried about the wholly Adelgid that is killing all the Hemlocks in NYS but they are worried about trail rails that aren’t used. Enough already.

  6. Bill Hutchison says

    ARTA and its state level allies were warned time and again that there would be problems with their approach, but they did not listen. Now they lost and they still don’t get it, as Keet’s screed shows.

  7. Larry Roth says

    If anyone needs further reason to have some caution before accepting ARTA statements at face value, here’s one more thing. Lee Keet of ARTA once claimed the rail trail would pump $20 million a year into the tri-lakes economy if I recall correctly.

    Spread that over the 40 weeks the corridor isn’t given over to snowmobiles, at $50 a visitor per day, you need over 1,400 cyclists Every Single Day to hit that target. And they all have to be from outside the region for that to be new money coming into the local economy, not locals just handing the same money back and forth to each other. Plus – you have to subtract all the money that could be coming from rail visitors.

    You can believe ARTA – or you can do the math.

  8. David P Lubic says

    Someone might find this comment on the subject to be of interest. It’s from Railway Preservation News (RyPN), by poster Chris Webster:

    “‘J3a-614 wrote:
    Just an editorial by a strong trail supporter (indeed, the principal trail supporter, and whom some would claim is also the principal villain, depending on your point of view), with comments. … nt-1281574′”

    “Thanks for sharing that J3a.

    Mr. Keet is arguing that the Judge used the wrong definition of a “travel corridor”. Here’s a quote of Mr. Keet’s second paragraph in the article J3a linked to above:

    “‘The judge based most of his ruling on what a “travel corridor” is in the State Land Master Plan (SLMP). To define a travel corridor, he used the current travel corridors inventoried in the SLMP (“1,220 miles of travel corridors, of which 1,100 are highway, 120 miles make up the Remsen to Lake Placid railroad”) and concluded that since current travel corridors are highways and railroads no other use is anticipated or permitted. But the SLMP defines a travel corridor as including “the Remsen to Lake Placid railroad right-of-way” (emphasis mine). Note that the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) did not say “Remsen to Lake Placid railroad” in its definition, as it did in listing existing travel corridors, it added “right of way”, for a reason.’

    “Here is the State of New York Adirondack Plan State Land Master Plan (SLMP) Mr. Keet referred to. He quotes from page 52 (60 of the PDF file) which says:

    “‘A travel corridor is that strip of land constituting the roadbed and right-of-way for state and interstate highways in the Adirondack Park, the Remsen to Lake Placid railroad right-of-way, and those state lands immediately adjacent to and visible from these facilities.’

    “However, it is not as simple (IMHO) as Mr. Keet believes. The SLMP’s Classification System and Guidelines section begins on page 14. Page 15 (23 of PDF) includes this:

    “‘Finally, the classification system takes into account the established facilities on the land, the uses now being made by the public and the policies followed by the various administering agencies. Many of these factors are self-evident: the presence of a highway determines the classification of a travel corridor; the presence of an existing campground or ski area requires the classification of intensive use.’

    “It seems to me that the “established facilities” are the existing track, ballast and roadbed while the “self-evident” factor is that the presence of that railroad is what determines it is a travel corridor.

    “Also page 123 (133 of PDF) of the SLMP has a list of the travel corridors. That page uses the term “Railroad Lines”, not right-of-way.

    “As for Mr. Keet’s assertion:

    “‘Note that the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) did not say “Remsen to Lake Placid railroad” in its definition, as it did in listing existing travel corridors, it added “right of way”, for a reason.’

    “I believe Mr. Keet has gotten it backwards. The SLMP could have said “track and right-of-way” to describe the railroad, just as the SLMP says “roadbed and right-of-way” to describe highways….. but a “track and right-of-way” definition would not have allowed a trail to be built parallel to the railroad. Dropping the “track and” from the definition allows a trail to be built parallel to the railroad within the railroad right-of-way.”

    This was followed by another comment from a poster using the name dinwitty:

    “Your not going to change the court decision opinionating on a news media, you will have to appeal. Having done jury duty, trying to manipulate the definitions won’t work. I will see that. That is way too obvious. Its back to ground zero on the plans and do it right if you want to get a trail. There are far more issues to check on, a nearby highway project here was stopped because of a rare Moth’s habitat. You will not be able to slam bang a project like this thru. Yes the highway finally got the go ahead. The Chicago O’hare highway expansion was trying to go over a CP yard and they never talked to the Road about the plans, CP balked and construction halted, poor planning again. No more ram rodding, we don’t have open lands much anymore.”


    There’s a lot of interesting reading there, although you also have the usual gasbagging, too.

  9. Carl Goodhines says

    Larry, leave it to someone who dreams of trains running through there daily full of passengers who absolutely love all of the scenery, natural beauty, and just plain ruggedness of the Adirondacks. Why, if you close your eyes, you can even see the wide-eyed citifolk gaping in awe out of the open windows of the cars. [insert needle scratching its way off of a record here]. You don’t know what a rail trail is; perhaps some out-of-state studies would help. But if it’s this corridor you want to keep so badly, I’m with you. Take it, and have the tracks removed from Remsen to Tupper Lake. Nice reference to cyclists only, using the rail-trail. You might as well say Diners serve nothing but coffee.

    • Larry Roth says

      Um, Carl? I live within easy travel of several rail trails plus a long multiuser trail along the Hudson. I’ve seen what real rail trails and rails with trails look like in England.

      You don’t like my picking on cyclists for my example? Go argue with Lee Keet – he brought it up in the first place. It’s ARTA that keeps referring to cyclists as “wallets on wheels”.

  10. Merry says

    It is difficult to agree that being called up short for breaking the law is a “temporary setback.”

    It would also be so nice if ARTA bothered to get a proofreader. It might send a clearer message that they want to be taken seriously.

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