State officials will host a public information meeting later this month in Utica concerning the latest draft plan for the proposed Adirondack rail trail, State Senate Deputy Minority Leader Joseph Griffo announced Monday.
Last month, the state Department of Environmental Conservation, in conjunction with the state Department of Transportation, released the latest draft for the Remsen-Lake Placid Travel Corridor Unit Management Plan.
The plan would amend the existing 1996 management plan for the 119-mile travel corridor, proposing to removing the railroad tracks between Tupper Lake and Lake Placid for a 34-mile multi-use recreational trail and extending the existing Remsen-Big Moose Station rail service up to Tupper Lake. Any usable track removed between Tupper Lake and Lake Placid would be reused for the rail extension, according to the plan.
Meetings are scheduled this week in Tupper Lake (Tuesday), Lake Placid (Wednesday) and Old Forge (Thursday). Griffo, R-Rome, said he wrote a letter dated Nov. 21 to DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos when those meetings were announced, encouraging the departments to host a meeting in Oneida County.
The Utica meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 19 in the first floor conference room of the Utica State Office Building, 207 Genesee St. With the new meeting scheduled in Oneida County, the state will extend the public comment period from Dec. 20 to Jan. 8, 2020, Griffo said.
“I am pleased that the DEC, in conjunction with the DOT, have agreed to hold a fourth meeting in Oneida County,” Griffo said in a statement. “I would like to thank both the DOT and DEC for their attention to this matter and providing the additional opportunity for Oneida County residents express their thoughts and opinions on this issue.”
State officials revised the Unit Management Plan after the Adirondack Railway Preservation Society, which operates the Adirondack Scenic Railroad, filed a lawsuit challenging the previous plan’s proposal to remove the rail section from Tupper Lake to Lake Placid.
A state Supreme Court judge ruled in favor of the Adirondack Railway Preservation Society and the state did not challenge, instead moving to redefine what constitutes a “travel corridor.” Under the new definition developed by the state Adirondack Park Agency, a travel corridor more specifically allow rail-trails to either exist alongside or in place of traditional railroad infrastructure, according to the draft Unit Management Plan.
At this stage, the DEC, DOT and the state Office of General Services have yet to develop a draft Historic Preservation Plan; the three agencies will consult with the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation about the document, according to the Unit Management Plan. A proposed timeline also calls for additional public information meetings in Remsen, Tupper Lake and Lake Placid.
Should the timeline hold up, state officials would begin awarding contracts for trail construction in 2021.