To the editor:
Having read more than 95 letters and columns written by nine Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates officers and directors (truly unfettered access to the public and policy makers provided by this publication), a repetitive pattern becomes apparent.
The ARTA approach is to revolve the same slanted and distorted talking points, marketed as facts. All are based on an ARTA and Keet Foundation funded study claiming incredible trail usage and economic development numbers. When these numbers are questioned or challenged, the same are just repeated again, and those who support rail preservation are ridiculed, intimidated and belittled as hobbyists, selfish, etc. When glaring ARTA underestimations of trail construction and maintenance costs are brought to the discussion, the same false costs are presented again, usually with another attack to the credibility of anyone who would dare challenge ARTA’s wisdom. Public officials who support development of the rail asset are faced with demands they resign or are intimidated.
Nine ARTA directors write 95 letters on a regular revolving basis. An aggressive petition signature drive commenced at snowmobile and sporting events. An expensive print and billboard ad campaign rolls out. A road show to editorial offices, elected officials, town boards. Glossy flip charts and graphs, smoothly presented. The same pie-in-the-sky economic justification to rip out an historic, valuable transportation asset that will become more important to this region as our energy consumption problems continue to unfold. Remove an important asset that will help us reduce emissions and environmental impacts to enable a few weeks of more snowmobiling on one trail? Remove it to increase traffic as the promised hundreds of thousands drive to a trail, and drive back home? Create more emissions, which some experts contend accelerates global warming, which shortens the winter and sports season even more?
The taxpayers of this state have just as much right to access and use of this important asset as the nine letter writers who have crafted such a groundswell of “support” for ripping out the railroad. Those taxpayers may want to visit, travel through and experience the beauty of the park they pay for in a comfortable, environmentally sustainable manner. They may be old, young or handicapped, or they might just be part of the growing percentage of our population who prefer to travel and vacation not sitting on top of or behind a motor. 1.4 million passengers voted for preservation of this asset by paying to use and support it. It is time those voters’ voices be heard above the nine letter writers.
David H. Link