ARTA plans to hire executive director; OSI applies for grant for trailhead development
By Chloe Bennett
There is light at the end of the tunnel for the Adirondack Rail Trail, a multi-use path that would connect Lake Placid to Tupper Lake but advocates intend to lend a flare.
According to Lee Keet, secretary and treasurer for the Adirondack Rail Trail Association, the organization is looking to hire an executive director for the nonprofit to help enhance the Department of Environmental Conservation’s plans for the trail.
The project will replace a passenger railway with a trail for recreational use.
The Adirondack Rail Trail will be built in phases and is set to be completed in 2025. The first stage will be a solid path connecting Saranac Lake with Lake Placid and is scheduled to open in Sept. 2023, DEC said. Simultaneously, work is being done on to rehab the existing rail line from Tupper Lake to Old Forge.
DEC expects work on the ground on the Adirondack Rail Trail to begin before the end of the 2022 construction season, but does not anticipate the first phase of construction being completed until late summer 2023. The projected cost is $22.9 million, but that could change, the DEC said.
“Now that they’re in actual construction mode and that the tracks have been removed, it’s time for the business community and the municipalities along the corridor to get together to decide how the outward-facing efforts will go,” Keet said.
The executive director will focus on public-oriented aspects of the organization’s work, including a centralized donation and grant process and publicity. Interviews for the position are underway, Keet said, but the organization has not made a final decision yet. “We would like to fill it this year,” he said.
In July, a grant application was submitted by the Open Space Institute to build a trailhead in Lake Placid that would open with the completed trail. The conservation organization is looking to help build a parking lot with around 43 slots, green space and bathrooms for the proposed project. Peter Karis, vice president for parks and stewardship at OSI, said the trailhead would help the public feel welcome and perhaps lead to using the trail responsibly.
Rail corridors such as the Adirondack Rail Trail reconnect communities and have benefits that extend beyond exercise, Karis said. “They are such a driver to the local economy.”
As of last month, The Adirondack Park Agency is taking public comments on the trail’s potential impact on wetlands in the park. The DEC said in an environmental notice bulletin that the entire project will impact fewer than 0.5 acres of wetlands.
Comments may be submitted in writing to Bart Haralson at P.O. Box 99, Route 86, Ray Brook, NY 12977 or to RPcomments@apa.ny.gov. Phone comments may also be made to (518) 891-4050. The comment period ends Aug. 4.