Grooming the way

TUPPER LAKE – Now that the town has purchased a trail groomer, it needs to make the most of it.

At Monday night’s town board meeting, Tupper Lake Snowmobile Club trail coordinator Peter Edwards and Tupper Lake village Trustee Rick Donah explained the economic impact snowmobiling could have on the town.

They also stressed that the town can get reimbursed by the New York State Snowmobile Association for the grooming it does on local trails.

“That’s ultimately what the town needs to do,” Donah said. “It made the investment with that groomer; now it needs to follow through on that piece of it because it’s the town’s budget that’s controlling the usage on that groomer. The clubs that are outside of Tupper Lake are taking care of their areas, but Tupper Lake needs to take the initiative to create the traffic here again.”

The decision to seek a groomer came in August when Edwards told the board that improved equipment could make the club eligible for grants from the NYSSA. Edwards said the club’s previous groomer needed repairs and therefore couldn’t handle the area’s 30 miles of trails.

The grants are distributed as a reimbursement to snowmobile clubs statewide to help cover costs associated with trail creation and maintenance. They would relieve that burden from the town and the Tupper Lake Snowmobile Club, which now share those costs.

Grant money from the NYSSA is derived from state snowmobile registration fees and is disbursed to snowmobile clubs across the state to help pay for the creation and maintenance of local snowmobile trails. Eligible clubs must have networks of well-maintained trails, complete with signage.

Keeping track of the number of miles groomed is the only way to get reimbursed. Donah explained that it’s all online, so it’s easy to log miles. He urged the town to coordinate with the Franklin County Snowmobile Club to determine which trails to maintain. The Remsen-Lake Placid rail corridor could be divvied up between clubs, he added.

Edwards also cautioned the board to make sure it gets reimbursed for every mile of trail it maintains.

“The Franklin (County) snowmobilers lost milage because the GPS coordinates didn’t come in right,” Edwards said. “Their concern was, as with any group, that they want a certain amount of miles per year so they can take in so much money. They’re hoping to get that 100 miles or so that they lost back, and they were going to give us maybe more of the rail corridor as a paid grooming to the town.”

Donah added that well-groomed snowmobile trails will bring people to the area, something local businesses can benefit from.

“The village businesses really need to start advertising through the map systems,” Donah said. “We just got on the New York state snowmobile map. It’s a trickle, but we have to work on it.”

The Tupper Lake Chamber of Commerce recently released a snowmobile trail map of its own, which it distributed to businesses in the town. On that map, the railroad corridor is called the C7 corridor and it appears as a thick orange line with several, thinner side-trail lines branching off of it. Those trails bend and curve into Tupper Lake, and most of them lead straight to businesses, which are also marked on the map.

Donah said it’s essential those side trails are maintained, and he recommended a collaboration between the town and the village to accomplish that.

“You can come to Tupper Lake and stay in Tupper Lake and launch right out of town,” Donah said. “The village does need to groom it on a more regular basis, though. Maybe we can work something out. It’s not a lot of trail, but it’s critical because it connects the businesses and the services to the main corridor.”

Edwards and Donah stressed that the Adirondacks are considered a hub for snowmobiling in the state.

“The New York State Snowmobile Association has been very cooperative,” Donah said. “The Adirondack Park makes up the largest segment of the snowmobiling territory. It’s almost 30 percent, versus the next closest area, which is 20 percent. They’re very motivated to help continue to expand the trail system up here. The opportunity for Tupper Lake is significant, so we want to embrace snowmobilers. I think we can do that, we just need to continue to work with the chamber and provide the opportunity for people to stay.”