A piece of history is turning the wheels in people's heads-- what's the future of the Remson-Lake Placid Travel Corridor Rail Line?
"A lot of people have nostalgia for the rail. It is part of what developed the Adirondacks in the first place. The railroad came in to develop the natural resources that were here, and also as a means for wealthy people to travel to the mountains," said Raymond Hessinger of the New York Department of Transportation.
The 119-mile rail line was created in 1892 as a freight service, which ended in 1972. Three years later, it was bought by the state. Now the tracks only run tourist trains in summer and fall. Some think keeping the track is a waste.
"I think they're waiting for shoeless Joe Jackson to come out of the woods and 10,000 people want to ride a train somewhere because we can't find any data that says freight is needed anymore, nobody uses that, the logistics have changes," said Lee Keet of the Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates.
The Department of Transportation is hosting four public meetings to decide if the tracks should stay or go.
"We're listening, we're not taking a stance, we're listening. We know what the existing use is but there's lots of things that can be different in the corridor," Hessinger said.
Community members like Lee Keet think the rail line should be torn up and used as a recreational trail.
"On a safe level path, we don't have a safe place to take your kids or your grandkids out on their tricycles or bikes that isn't exposed to traffic or cars. We don't have a place for exercise," Keet said.
Keet says 300 businesses and 12,000 citizens have signed a petition to tear up the tracks. He says creating a rec trail will only boost the economy and make better use out of the land.
"Bottom line of all this is we think in the winter we'll get another $7.5 million of spending from snowmobilers, and in the summer we'll get $20+ million from hikers, bikers, etc., if we build a rec trail," Keet said.
"We need to do some of our own homework and come up with those numbers ourselves," Hessinger said.
Transportation officials say if the track does stay it has potential to expand ridership and tie their services to recreational activities.
"For example there's a Boy Scout camp directly adjacent to the track in Sabattis. If they could run through that section they can bring campers directly to that site," Hessinger said.
In the meantime, officials are hoping to come to an agreement by the end of 2013 that will make the best use out of the rail line.
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