94% solution to Tupper Lake trail delay

To the editor:

In regard to the article, “Tupper trail delayed,” which appeared in Aug. 14 Enterprise, I wish to make a few comments. In the Jan. 9 Tupper Lake Free Press, it was stated that “the New York State Dept. of Transportation officials are currently reviewing the project, Mayor Paul Maroun reported at the December village board meeting.” The project referred to is the proposed multi-use trail from the railroad station to the uptown Aubuchon Plaza along the 100-foot right of way of the New York and Ottawa corridor which is owned by the New York state Department of Transportation to about 680 feet south of Santa Clara Avenue.

On Friday, Jan. 11, I went to the village office and asked if the trail would involve tearing up the tracks, as I was familiar with the North Country Regional Economic Development Council’s Key Strategy No. 12 relative to preserving and rehabilitating all surviving rail infrastructures in the Adirondacks. Mr. Maroun said, “Yes, the tracks have to be torn up.” On Saturday, Jan. 12, I walked the tracks from Pine Street to the OWD with my 100-foot tape. There was 22 feet, zero inches of clearance between the tracks and the power poles, which could easily accommodate a 12-foot, zero-inch-wide multi-use trail and power line access without tearing up track. Beyond the OWD, the tracks had been torn up sometime in the past. I advised that there was no reason to tear up the tracks for this trail and that this siding may be valuable to the OWD property development.

In the Tupper Lake Free Press of Wednesday, May 29, the Tupper Lake mayor advised the Department of Public Works superintendent to pull extra help if needed to remove the rails and ties from Pine Street to behind the village garage near the old OWD factory. The rails would be recycled to offset the cost of a multi-use trail to be built.

On or about June 13, the village tore up the tracks belonging to the New York State Department of Transportation and dragged them up behind the village garage with several sections of track bolted together, causing them to bend and twist.

These are the same tracks that paragraph 5 of the Aug. 14 article describes as having been long ago removed and may have to be re-laid by DOT.

Of the 100-foot right-of-way, 94 percent is available for multi-use trails and drainage; the remaining 6 percent are tracks and power poles.

Dan Mecklenburg

Tupper Lake

Editor’s note: The Enterprise regrets erroneously reporting on Aug. 14 that the OWD rail spur’s 1,500-foot stretch in question, which the DOT says may be needed for a future train turnaround, had been removed long ago.

Village officials confirmed that they removed the section from Cedar Street to behind OWD earlier this year. They added that patches of the rails were missing and that the ties were rotted, since that track hadn’t been used since 1937. (The tracks east of OWD had been removed at least 25 years ago, they said.)

Mayor Paul Maroun said the village removed those tracks on the advice of the DOT, to further the trail project, but then after Mr. Mecklenburg talked to the department, it changed its recommendation.

“As they re-researched it, their lawyers found that they have a right to this line,” Mr. Maroun said.

He said Tuesday that he will email the DOT a request for a memorandum of understanding to let the village progress with its trail project and look into replacing the railroad turnaround section if it’s needed in the future.