Next Stop! Tupper Lake Chairman Dan McClelland, left, and Vice Chairman Dan Mecklenburg spoke to Saranac Lake Village Board members at their Sept. 10 meeting.
Tupper Lake railroad supporters presented their case for a recreation trail next to the train tracks between Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake during the Sept. 10 Saranac Lake Village Board meeting.
Next Stop! Tupper Lake Chairman Dan McClelland and Vice Chairman Dan Mecklenburg addressed Village Board members during the public comment period, two months after Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates (ARTA) officials presented their case for ripping up the tracks and building a recreation trail from Old Forge to Saranac Lake.
“Many in the region believe that the Adirondack Railroad line from Remsen to Lake Placid will figure prominently in the economic future of the Adirondacks,” said McClelland, who is also the publisher of the Tupper Lake Free Press. “That’s why the tracks must stay. That’s why the condition of the rails and ties must be improved.”
A recreation path is already being built next to the tracks between Lake Placid and Saranac Lake, spearheaded by the town of North Elba. The same could be accomplished along the more than 20 miles of tracks between Tupper Lake and Saranac Lake, McClelland asserted.
“Next Stop! Tupper Lake has also long believed in the concept of a multi-use corridor, where the line’s ballast would be widened to accommodate hikers, bikers, and in the winter cross-country skiers, snowshoe travelers and snowmobilers,” McClelland said. “If snowmobilers could run the entire line in winter without having to ride on top of the rails, the snowmobiling opportunities and resulting economic benefits to Adirondack communities would be immense. Snowmobilers spend big money on their trips.”
Mayor Clyde Rabideau said he would like to take a trip along the tracks from Saranac Lake to Tupper Lake on one of the Adirondack Scenic Railroad’s high-railer — a truck fitted with wheels that can travel along the tracks — to see the corridor for himself.
The Adirondack Scenic Railroad currently operates tourist train excursions between Saranac Lake and Lake Placid and would like to extend service to Tupper Lake. That would mean an expensive overhaul of the tracks, such as replacing ties.
“Our opponents say it’s expensive,” McClelland said. “But what isn’t expensive?”
In November 2011, Next Stop! Tupper Lake launched its “On Track to Saranac” campaign to raise money for refurbishing the tracks and restoring rail service from Tupper Lake to Saranac Lake. The group created a set of naming opportunities, ranging from $25 to$100,000.
•Bridge Naming Opportunities ($25,000-$100,000)
•Switch Naming Opportunities ($1,500)
•Road Crossing Naming Opportunities ($2,000-$5,000)
•Culvert Naming Opportunities ($500)
•Rail/Tie/Spike Naming Opportunities ($25-$500)
Learn more about Next Stop! Tupper Lake at nextstoptupperlake.org.
In August, the Mayor Rabideau and village trustees decided they would invite stakeholders in the controversial Great Adirondack Recreation Trail to a meeting to begin the process of reaching a consensus on the issue. That meeting has not yet been set.
In July, ARTA officials asked the Village Board to pass a resolution supporting the group’s recreation trail proposal. Board members, however, said they were not yet prepared to support any rec trail position until more questions are answered.
Next Stop! Tupper Lake was formed in 2002 to restore and reopen rail service initially between Tupper Lake and Lake Placid, and eventually from Remsen to Lake Placid.
ARTA was formed in 2011 to create a world-class recreation trail along the 90-mile railroad corridor between Old Forge and Lake Placid, preferring to tear up the tracks between Old Forge and Saranac Lake.