Dick Beamish (standing) and Lee Keet (sitting on table) of the Adirondack Recreation Trail Advocates talk about their plight Dec. 27.
On Tuesday, Dec. 27, the Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates (ARTA) held a press conference in Saranac Lake to discuss their vision to convert the railroad corridor from Lake Placid to Old Forge into a multiuse recreational trail.
The rail-line is currently used between Lake Placid and Saranac Lake each summer for the Adirondack Scenic Railroad. ARTA believes that the railroad has not delivered on its promised economic help to the region, and believes that the rail corridor should be converted to a multi-use recreational trail for a variety of outdoor pursuits such as snowmobiling, bicycling, cross country skiing, and birdwatching.
ARTA said that they believe local support for the project is high, and announced that on average they have added about 100 people each week to their on-line list of supporters since their website has kept track. ARTA also announced the following:
• they have commissioned a $25,000 study by the Rails to Trails Conservancy to estimate the costs and benefits of converting the rail-line to a recreational path. ARTA is in the process of becoming a 501c3 nonprofit organization, and will likely begin fundraising in earnest for the assessment project in mid-late winter.
• An environmental sociology class from Paul Smith’s College will survey local businesses in Lake Placid and Saranac Lake to gauge the economic impact of the current tourist train.
• plans to send supporters – who they called ambassadors – to disseminate information about the recreational trail at a variety of public meetings and events in order to garner public support.
• plans to discuss the project with local officials to help them understand the project’s benefits and to gain their support for the project in the process.
ARTA steering committee members went on to discuss these benefits for the recreational trail project including improving the quality of life for locals, economic growth by bringing in recreational tourists, providing a venue for many recreational activities, and as a means for connecting Adirondack communities.
“We keep trying to bring it back to what’s best for the communities,” steering committee member Lee Keet said.