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For history, scenery and access, keep railroad in Adirondacks

Sunday, August 11, 2013
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For history, scenery and access, keep railroad in Adirondacks

I found your August 9 editorial on the future of the Adirondack Scenic Railroad to be very interesting. Having taken a ride on the railroad last fall and hearing about the controversy between the rail enthusiasts and hikers, I felt that the editorial didn’t adequately show both sides.

The group that is trying to shut down the railroad is very well organized and had spent considerable time and money to sway public opinion to their vision of a hiking and bicycling paradise in the Adirondacks. Hiking and biking over three seasons and then turning the trail over to snowmobiles in the winter sounds like an appealing idea.

It also sounds very elitist and selfish to me in that it prevents a large number of New Yorkers from enjoying the area.

For many elderly and handicapped people, the railroad is the only way for them to enjoy the year-round beauty of the Adirondack park. When my wife and I road the railroad last fall, many of passengers were there because of physical limitations. Many others were there because they loved the thrill of riding on a true link to the past by riding on a train that looked like it had rolled right out of the last century. For purely historic reasons alone, the railroad should continue to operate.

We really can’t afford to lose another piece of our state’s history. The most telling part of your editorial was the posturing of the two sides in the dispute. The pro-rail people seemed more than happy to expand the rail line and share it with the hikers and bicyclists.

The other side, however, seemed completely against any kind of compromise to let the railroad continue and apparently happy to keep an entire group of New Yorkers out of “their” area. I wonder what the organizers’ reactions would be if an accident or illness prevented them from walking or riding a bike through the mountains that they love so much? Would they just find another state or area to enjoy nature, where scenic historic railways were embraced rather than condemned?

I have been in love with the Adirondacks for my entire life, and I would love to continue to enjoy the area as long as I possibly can. On behalf of all New Yorkers, I say “long live the railroad.”

John Angilletta

Scotia

Don’t dare compare ‘dago’ issue to ‘Redskins’

Re Aug. 7 letter, “If ‘dago’ is offensive, then what about ‘Redskins?’”: Why a reader would bring up the name of the Washington Redskins is beyond me. The dago issue is a local one; however, the Redskins’ use has been reviewed extensively in the press, legislatures and courts. And, is hardly a local issue or meaningfully related.

There’s probably not a single term relating to any group that would not be offensive or unacceptable to someone. As a “Skins’ ” season ticket holder, I can assure Mr. Bubniak that, rather than “racist,”’ the name Redskins honors the brave attitude, strength and morality of Native Americans that this historic and well-regarded NFL team, last year’s NFC East champions, strives to emulate.

I, and millions of other fans, look forward to continued use and honor of the name “Redskins.” Hail to them!

Jay Murphy

Clifton Park

If Nisky students fail, tests are clearly faulty

I have been a physician for almost four decades. We constantly use tests to make measurements in our care of patients. If a test is devised that fails to adequately measure or predict an outcome, we conclude that the test is faulty and cease the use of it.

The Aug. 8 article about the new state tests was shocking to me. The Niskayuna school district is considered one of the best in the country. There is a very high graduation rate and great success in college acceptances. A large majority of graduates go on to productive lives and careers. These factors should be the measurement of a school district — not a test that is failed by many of these otherwise stellar students.

We taxpayers should be outraged as to how many dollars are wasted in the development of these faulty tests. Not only do they not measure the true success of schooling, but they force our districts to prepare students for tests as opposed to providing an education.

Barry Lindenberg

Niskayuna

Why such a negative spin on Saratoga story?

Reading the Aug. 5 article about Saratoga Springs by David Lombardo reminded me of a quote from Yogi Berra, “Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.”

David ended his otherwise negative story by saying that there were 30,000 people in downtown Saratoga Springs for the Floral Fete parade, “wildly exceeding expectations.” Wow — 30,000 people to watch horse-drawn carriages covered with flowers and young children on their bikes that they had decorated with flowers.

So why did the headline and the first 90 percent of the story make it seem that Saratoga Springs is doing badly this summer? Sure, the total attendance for the track is down a little, but the temperature some days was in the 90s, and he even mentioned at the end of the article that things are picking up. Total money spent on the races is up more than $2 million over last year so far.

My point is that there is more than one way to look at a situation, and to look at the negative instead of pointing out the positive in this situation just does a disservice to our community. Many people worked very hard on the parade and the ice cream social, and it was a great success.

Karen Klotz

Saratoga Springs

All must keep working on Schoharie flood control

It has been almost five years since I first wrote about representatives at the next levels of government taking a long, hard look at flood mitigation with respect to our county.

I have talked about possible dredging, the creation of wetlands and holding ponds as well as stabilization of our existing waterways, an effort necessary to lessen the impacts of flooding currently affecting many of our towns, villages and hamlets. If we are to avoid future catastrophes from changing weather patterns, we must be willing to help redirect heavy rainfalls and spring thaws.

I am certain that many of you, at this point in time, realize the outreach for help on this issue has been answered by our Assemblyman Pete Lopez, our senator, James Seward, and our congressman, Chris Gibson, who has just recently appointed a watershed commission to deal with this issue.

Middleburgh Town Supervisor Jim Buzon and I have been appointed to this commission. A coalition has been formed consisting of all state and county agencies associated with this effort as well as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. We have met three times beginning in February, and the coalition continues to grow with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand recently coming on board and Sen. Charles Schumer expected to join as well.

Our Sen. Seward has recommended that the coalition reach out to all representatives in the upstream and downstream counties to strengthen this effort, and that task has begun as well.

It is important for you to know that state leadership as well as federal leadership is right now extremely sympathetic to this effort and very willing to help, bearing in mind that the corrective measures necessary will need substantial financial support.

Please be advised that a letter of intent is currently being put together, with an RFP [request for proposal] to follow calling for a study to be performed with respect to flood and storm drainage, something that is necessary for us to move forward. All parties involved in this effort realize that if we are to protect our residents, we must address the problems that exist in our waterways by curing the problems and using methods that will lessen impacts.

This concerted effort has been a long time coming, and I wish to thank sincerely our representatives mentioned previously in this letter for their interest and diligence on the issue. The residents of Schoharie County could not ask for more.

Let us hope that all involved are capable of removing the fear of future high water events so that the residents of Schoharie County, as well as others, will never be faced with the type of disaster already experienced.

There is no doubt in my mind that this effort will attract many more partners who have the same concerns pertaining to flooding. Collectively we are capable. Please encourage your elected officials to keep moving forward on this issue.

Gene Milone

Schoharie

The writer is town supervisor.

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comments

August 11, 2013
2:10 p.m.
pollywog says...

Organizations such as Saratoga PLAN have a lot of good ideas. Good ideas, however, that are based on taking over someone else's land. They leave it up to others to own and nurture these scenic views, then they show up and claim that it's good for the hikers. Well, taking out a railroad might be good for hikers, but it's not real great for those who like to take the train. Not everyone is a hiker and it's presumptuous of any group to claim to be protecting the scenic land when it's solely for their own use. Just because it's scenic doesn't mean that hikers alone get to determine its use. Keep the trains....train riders enjoy the scenery, too.

August 12, 2013
7:17 a.m.
wmarincic says...

My favorite way to travel is by train and that is because of the view. Again, an elite few feel that they are the only ones who matter.

August 12, 2013
8:56 a.m.
mezz3131 says...

Redskins, Dago, Mick, WHO CARES. Get a life and some thicker skin. Racism and name calling exists because people bring attention to it and it will continue as long as people know that it bothers you. Are the U.S. Marines going to cry if someone calls them a leatherneck?

August 12, 2013
2:59 p.m.
biwemple says...

I do a bit of hiking myself and I think it would be kind of boring hiking along an old rail bed that has little or no elevation and direction change. I've been on several of these abandoned tracks in the north woods and they don't look all that appealing for a hike either. Is it really hiking\skiing they (whoever they are) want to promote, or exclusion of people who might want to travel to these remote locations by rail? Rail travel would be a lot better to use than cars which produce only congestion, air pollution, and other headaches. You can move a few hundred people through an area by rail several times a day and probably not notice a lot of impact, but try and move that many people by individual cars through an area, and it becomes a traffic bottleneck. If these Adk towns want more tourist dollars, it would only benefit them by getting more people there easily by a nice scenic train ride instead of autos which often have trouble just finding a parking spot in these small towns.

August 12, 2013
4:25 p.m.
robbump says...

I agree with biWemple about the flat trails being a bit boring. Yes, many people will come to hike and bicycle ... but a lot more people will come AND SPEND MONEY for a unique railroad experience. (It's too bad they don't also embrace public transit as well ... strange on what people will do for vacation but not everyday activity.)

August 13, 2013
12:22 p.m.
tplansing says...

I have to agree with both biWemple and Robbump, although trains are not the only way to see natures splendor. Horseback is another way, but I won't get into that here.

I think that traveling by train is one of the more satisfying modes of travel around today. I find that flying is a pain in the rear, with the security check-points, the pat-downs, and x-rays, I feel like my private life has been invaded, and I just have issues with the methods that are taken to ensure my security inflight. I also find it difficult to try to identify places from the air to show my wife. Sort of "Oh look, Honey, there is where Andersonville Prison was!" As I have by now a crick in my neck from looking out those little windows that are mounted where no one can look out of. Al least a train you can see out of the windows and identify places you know about. Like as you head south on the east side of the Hudson, the Hudson River Lighthouse, Castleton State Park,Claremont Historic Site, Bannerman's Island, West Point, Sing-Sing Prison, Places like that to those who have never seen them before.
As far as using rail beds for bicycle paths, who is going to do all of the initial work to get those rail beds ready for the bicycles and their riders? How much is that going to cost? You are going to have to have the road beds graded every year is they are dirt because of other users during the winter months unless they are strictly patrolled! And both you and I know that isn't going to happen. There just aren't enough State Troopers and EnCon Officers available to patrol all areas 24/7/365 to catch the snowmobilers, and ATV's, and possibly some 4X4 trucks trying to do the impossible. And there will be some nut who will try.
Are you going to remove the old ballast and/or cinder bed? That is gong to cost money! Then you will have to grade(level) the bed, more money. Are you going to provide shelters for those who may want to camp over night? Those shelters aren't cheap, more money! Waste facilities(outhouses) are a good idea, more money and good for personal hygiene. I mention this only because most people don't know how deep to dig a latrine. So maintenance on that is going to cost more money. (lime and pine sol). Lord, I forgot about the old rails and ties. There is some big bucks! Those rails are heavy, and spiked to the ties. The ties aren't exactly featherweights either. If memory serves me, they are 8"X8"X8'long, and treated with creosote. So the creosote makes them un-burnable, because of the chemicals in them, that is dangerous in itself.
So I would opt for keeping the railroad and making a go with that. Yes you can get the money for eh scrap iron of the rails, plates, and spikes, but that is about all that is salvageable.I think the rest would have to be considered expenses.

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