The Adirondack rail/recreational trail controversy continues to command attention in the media, and it appears a substantial number of people favor removing the existing track to establish a multi-use recreational trail from Lake Placid to Tupper Lake. These advocates fail to consider the long-term consequences of track removal.
The existing track, if restored, would provide a vital source of public transportation from Utica to Lake Placid and surrounding communities, reducing the number of trucks and cars carrying goods and passengers to the Adirondacks.
Pollution from the increasing number of vehicles in the Adirondacks is taking a toll on habitats and fragile ecosystems. The state needs to encourage and provide incentives for public transportation, including restoration of rail transportation from Utica to Lake Placid.
The Adirondack Park, the largest in the lower forty-eight states, already contains an incomparable number of walking paths, nature trails, and on-road and off-road bikeways, not to mention a multitude of snowmobile trails. Visitors to the Park are by no means at a loss for recreational opportunities.
Although multi-use recreational trails on obsolete railroad routes provide a major recreational resource in high-density population areas where open space is at a premium, there is no lack of open space in the Adirondack Park .Given the vast number of recreational trails that already exist in the Park, it is most unlikely that the proposed multi-use trail from Lake Placid to Tupper Lake will boost tourism and economic growth as projected by its supporters.
On the other hand, removal of the track from Lake Placid to Tupper Lake would prove to be a very costly mistake.
John R. Ackerman, River Bend, NC
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