Cuomo Announces Approval Of Adirondack Rail-Trail Plan

As George the cranky steam roller from the Thomas the Tank Engine series says “Tear them up and turn them into roads” but in this case trails. I’ll be honest, I agree with this plan. I work in the rail industry, however I enjoy the outdoors. The original plan was to remove the rails from Big Moose to Lake Placid. Now the rails will only be removed from Lake Placid to Tupper Lake a distance of 35 miles rather than about sixty or so.

I believe that if the rails were to stay and the entire line be restored to active service it would boom until the nostalgia wore off. Who knows maybe I am wrong? I do believe a rail trail will draw more visitors than the railroad. Right now in America the “Rail Trail” boom is booming and they continue to grow in popularity. I guess only time will tell if this was the right decision.

Below is the story by Phil Brown  of the http://www.adirondackalmanack.com

Governor Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday announced approval of a controversial plan to remove state-owned railroad tracks between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake to create a 34-mile multi-use trail. In addition, the state is committed to restoring 45 miles of tracks between Big Moose and Tupper Lake.

The governor’s announcement is a victory for Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates (ARTA) and a defeat for the Adirondack Scenic Railroad (ASR), which operates a tourist train on a 10-mile stretch of tracks that will be removed. Later in the day, ASR revealed that it recently filed a lawsuit in State Supreme Court seeking to save the tracks.

ARTA President Joe Mercurio, who lives in Saranac Lake, said he was thrilled by the governor’s announcement. “ARTA and a great many others have worked long and hard for this,” he said. “Governor Cuomo deserves a huge round of applause for his support. It was the right thing to do.”

The trail would be used by bicyclists, hikers, and others most of the year and by snowmobilers in the winter.

In a news release Tuesday afternoon, the governor’s office said the trail will be finished within three years, at a cost of $8 million. The line south of Tupper Lake will be rehabilitated within the same period, at a cost of $15 million.

“By rehabilitating the railway and building a scenic trail, we are better utilizing the corridor and its surrounding lands to create more economic and recreational opportunities for residents and visitors alike,” Cuomo said.

One argument for removing the tracks was that the ASR train that runs between Saranac Lake and Lake Placid does little for the local economy. ARTA and many local officials contend that a recreational trail will attract more tourists.

If the tracks are removed, ASR will have to shut down the Lake Placid train. Also, Rail Explorers USA, a rail-bike operation that started last year in Saranac Lake, will have to relocate.

ASR will still be able to run trains out of Old Forge and eventually extend its excursions all the way to Tupper Lake. The Old Forge train is seen as more successful than the Lake Plaid train.

However, it’s not certain ASR will continue to be the rail operator in the corridor. The state plans to solicit bids for a rail operator.

The entire state-owned rail corridor extends 119 miles from Remsen to Lake Placid and is managed by the state Department of Transportation. The updated management plan for the corridor was drafted by DOT and the state Department of Environmental Conservation, which will oversee the construction and maintenance of the recreational trail.

DEC officials said Tuesday that track removal could begin as early as December or, if not then, in the spring. ASR and Rail Explorers can continue to operate on the tracks through November.

Supporters of the railroad have argued, among other things, that removing the tracks would violate the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan. They also point out that the corridor and the tracks are on the state and national registers of historic places.

In February, after the Adirondack Park Agency approved the rail-trail plan, ASR started a campaign to raise $100,000 for a legal fight. As of late March, it said it had raised about $40,000.

Bill Branson, president of the Adirondack Railway Preservation Society, which operates ASR, said in a news release late Tuesday afternoon that the railroad recently filed a lawsuit against DEC and the APA. “We are an important driver of tourism in the Adirondacks, and we cannot understand why DEC is determined to destroy vital transportation infrastructure and the only operator on that infrastructure,” he said.

Steve Engelhart of Adirondack Architectural Heritage also criticized the decision. “We are disappointed by the governor’s announcement, as we feel that the railroad advocates made a strong case for the preservation of the entire 119-mile rail corridor for its economic, social, and cultural value,” Engelhart said. “In addition to destroying a significant section of this National Register-listed historic resource, this decision will shut down a successful local business, Adirondack Rail Explorers, and eliminate the northern operations of the Adirondack Scenic Railroad, a popular attraction for area visitors with thousands of riders every year.”

In addition to building a rail trail and fixing up old tracks, the state intends to:

  • Build snowmobile trails near the corridor to connect Tupper Lake and Old Forge and improve snowmobile connections between the Adirondacks and Tug Hill.
  • Evaluate the feasibility of a hut-to-hut cross-country ski trail from Beaver River to Horseshoe Lake.
  • Establish railway stops for visitors and outdoor recreationists.
  • Consult with the State Historic Preservation Office to mitigate the impacts of removing the rails.
Adirondack Scenic Railroad "Railroader's Special" arrives the station at Big Moose, NY on September 24th 2015.
Adirondack Scenic Railroad arrives the station at Big Moose, NY, image © Joe Geronimo.
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Looking Back: #tbt

Grand Central Terminal June 15th 2013. Image © Joe Geronimo.
Grand Central Terminal June 15th 2013. Image © Joe Geronimo.

We drove from our home to Peekskill where we hopped on board Metro North for a beautiful ride into our favorite New York destination, Grand Central Terminal. Julie had wanted to spend her birthday weekend in Manhattan touring bakeries, tasting cupcakes, shopping the Chelsea Market, walking the High Line and do a little hiking in the Hudson Valley. Here is a favorite image from Julie’s 2013 birthday weekend.

Cheers!

 

 

The Early Bird Catches The Train

This past weekend was quite an adventurous one to say the least. Saturday morning we woke at 0530 and drove 140 miles to Peekskill, New York in order to catch our train into Manhattan.

Peekskill, New York train station. Image © Joe Geronimo
Peekskill, New York train station. Image © Joe Geronimo

My wife Julie and our sons Max and Michael waiting for our train at Peekskill, New York. Image © Joe Geronimo
My wife Julie and our sons Max and Michael waiting for our train at Peekskill, New York. Image © Joe Geronimo

Weather was perfect on Saturday and the hour train ride was just as beautiful as the railroad follows the Hudson River most of the way into New York. Arriving at the famed Grand Central Terminal which celebrates one hundred years in 2013.

Travelers scurry the main concourse at Grand Central Terminal. Image © Joe Geronimo
Travelers scurry the main concourse at Grand Central Terminal. Image © Joe Geronimo
Outside of Grand Central on our way to Bryant Park. Image © Joe Geronimo
Outside of Grand Central on our way to Bryant Park. Image © Joe Geronimo

We are celebrating my wife’s 50th birthday on this day. She wanted to travel to Manhattan to tour some bakeries in her on going cupcake adventure. Another goal of the day is to visit Chelsea Market and the High Line. Walking from Grand Central to Bryant Park.
Making our way from Grand Central to Bryant Park we see a view of the Chrysler Building. Image © Joe Geronimo
Making our way from Grand Central to Bryant Park we see a view of the Chrysler Building. Image © Joe Geronimo
Walking from Bryant Park we arrive Times Square where we will hop the 2 train to 14th Street and the Chelsea area.
NYPD precinct at Times Square. Image © Joe Geronimo
NYPD precinct at Times Square. Image © Joe Geronimo
On the 2 train headed for 14th Street, the Chelsea Market and High Line. Image © Joe Geronimo
On the 2 train headed for 14th Street, the Chelsea Market and High Line. Image © Joe Geronimo
Arriving at 14th Street we made our way over to the Chelsea Market. “Chelsea Market is an enclosed urban food court, shopping mall, office building and television production facility located in the Chelsea neighborhood of the borough of Manhattan, in New York City. Built in the former National Biscuit Company factory complex where the Oreo cookie was invented and produced, the 22-building complex fills two entire blocks bounded by Ninth and Eleventh Avenues and 15th and 16th Streets, with a connecting bridge over Tenth Avenue. In addition to the retail concourse in the structure east of 10th Avenue, it also provides standard office space for tenants, including media and broadcasting companies such as Oxygen Network, Food Network, Mr Youth, MLB.com, EMI Music Publishing and the local New York City cable station NY1. Also, more recently, Google has moved into some of the second and fourth floors.
Retail facilities were introduced into the building by connecting the original back lots of individual buildings to a central, ground-level concourse with entries at 9th and 10th Avenues (completed in April 1997). Anchor stores include the Chelsea Market Baskets, Manhattan Fruit Exchange, BuonItalia, Anthropologie, and a restaurant called Buddakan. There is also the Fat Witch Bakery, Amy’s Bread, Ruth’s Bakery, Chelsea Wine Vault, Eleni’s Bakery, The Lobster Place, Dickson’s Farmstand, The Green Table, Chelsea Thai and Friedman’s Lunch, as well as a variety of smaller stores selling cheese, artisanal salt and olive oil, chocolate and flowers.
In January 2006 on the 10th Avenue side, Morimoto, owned by Food Network “Iron Chef” Masaharu Morimoto and designed by Japanese architect Tadao Ando, opened. Opposite Morimoto across 10th Avenue, also in the Chelsea Market complex is Del Posto, an Italian restaurant owned by fellow “Iron Chef”, Mario Batali. The Food Network films its shows Iron Chef America and Emeril Live in the Chelsea Market.”
The Chelsea Market. Image © Joe Geronimo
The Chelsea Market. Image © Joe Geronimo
This where we decided to have some lunch. On a Saturday the place is mobbed! Not sure what the rest of the week brings? However there is limited seating inside the market with most people taking their food to either the High Line Park or the High Line itself. I must say we enjoyed the food and the selection was great. You can even get a whole fresh lobster for lunch! http://lobsterplace.com, I opted for lunch at Sarabeth’s Kitchen http://www.sarabeth.com where I had the grilled smoked mozzarella, tomato and avocado sandwich. I won’t lie the sandwich was so good I had another! Ok my wife’s first stop on her cupcake tour was Eleni’s New York http://elenis.com for some cupcakes.
Eleni's New York Bakery. Image © Joe Geronimo
Eleni’s New York Bakery. Image © Joe Geronimo
Since it was my wife’s birthday the boys and I packed a candle in order to celebrate her day. I convinced her to leave the market and head over to the High Line Park in order to sit and enjoy her cupcakes. However a light breeze kept blowing the candle out.
Happy Birthday! Image © Joe Geronimo
Happy Birthday! Image © Joe Geronimo
Back in the market we made a brief stop in Antropologie http://www.anthropologie.com/anthro/index.jsp where the boys were goofing around.
Michael being goofy. Image © Joe Geronimo
Michael being goofy. Image © Joe Geronimo
Max taking a nap! Image © Joe Geronimo
Max taking a nap! Image © Joe Geronimo
Now we we’re on the High Line. The High Line is an former elevated freight railroad that has been made into a walking green space in an otherwise asphalt and concrete urban environment.
Walking the High Line. Image © Joe Geronimo
Walking the High Line. Image © Joe Geronimo
Walking the High Line. Image © Joe Geronimo
Walking the High Line. Image © Joe Geronimo
The Freedom Tower rises above the High Line and Manhattan. Image © Joe Geronimo
The Freedom Tower rises above the High Line and Manhattan. Image © Joe Geronimo
After the High Line our next stop was Billy’s Bakery http://www.billysbakerynyc.com for some more cupcake sampling.
Birthday Girl inspecting the days delights. Image © Joe Geronimo
Birthday Girl inspecting the days delights. Image © Joe Geronimo
Billy's Bakery Red Velvet Cupcakes. Image © Joe Geronimo
Billy’s Bakery Red Velvet Cupcakes. Image © Joe Geronimo
While sitting and enjoying we were talking with another family and they told us about this minuscule cupcake place called Citycakes http://www.citycakesny.com. They were telling us how tiny this place was and if you didn’t know it was there you’d walk right by it. It was tucked down a small staircase in Chelsea. It was so tiny that my 18mm lens was to big.. So an iPhone image will have to do.
Salted Caramel Cupcake. Image © Joe Geronimo
Salted Caramel Cupcake. Image © Joe Geronimo
At this point the boys were getting tired as we had been doing a lot of walking. We hopped the 2 train at 18th Street and made our way back to Times Square.
Love the old tile work of the NYC Subway System. Image © Joe Geronimo
Love the old tile work of the NYC Subway System. Image © Joe Geronimo
Back in Times Square Max bumped into Shrek.
Max and Shrek. Image © Joe Geronimo
Max and Shrek. Image © Joe Geronimo
And finally back to Grand Central Terminal to catch our train to Peekskill.
Grand Central Terminal. Image © Joe Geronimo
Grand Central Terminal. Image © Joe Geronimo
NYC_25 Upon arriving at Peekskill I had to make a quick stop for a cold beer at the Peekskill Brewery http://peekskillbrewery.wordpress.com where I enjoyed the “Skills Pils an international style Pilsner with German malts, New Zealand Riwaka hops and American lager yeast.
Peekskill Brewery "Skills Pils". Image © Joe Geronimo
Peekskill Brewery “Skills Pils”. Image © Joe Geronimo
Making our way from Peekskill to Cold Spring for dinner at a restaurant aptly named “Cold Spring Depot” housed in the former New York Central Station along Metro North’s Hudson Division. he Menu boasts 68 freight and passenger trains daily. Sitting on the patio the evening was perfect. Not buggy and the temperature was comfortable. The food was great service however a bit slow but expected on a Saturday evening. Waiting for our food my wife was reading the placemat. It mention an easy hike two miles north at Breakneck Ridge. We figured this would be a great Father’s Day hike on Sunday. After dinner we made our way over to West Point and crashed at the West Point Motel http://www.thewestpointmotel.com.

Early on Sunday morning I went out for my run while Julie and the boys were sleeping. It was a cool morning and quiet. I made some chit chat with the Military Police at the entrance of West Point and discovered a farmers market being set up in town also. After a nine mile run it was back to the motel for a shower and breakfast. We decided to head for the farmers market for breakfast. Some strawberries, pumpkin bread, mini cherry pies and a cup of coffee we were all set for our easy hike at Breakneck Ridge. Arriving at the trail head we packed very little. Actually we didn’t pack a dam thing except my two very heavy cameras. No water, food, etc… Heck the placemat said it was an easy hike. Off we went! The trail started off smoothly and then all of a sudden it got steep, and we had to start scaling some very large rocks. Not to be deterred we pressed on seeing as the flag pole we saw from the highway below did not look to far up. That was a pretty hefty climb up and we thought how the hell would we get back down?

Arriving at what we thought was the summit of Breakneck Mountain.
Arriving at what we thought was the summit of Breakneck Mountain.
In order to get down we were told we had to continue up. We looked up and said are you fucking kidding me! I mean it was shear rock face. Michael now nicknamed “The Mountain Goat” was a machine he loved this and scaled these rock faces like it was nothing. Along the way we bumped into two guys who really helped us out. They provided us with water and kept tabs on Max and helped him if needed as did I. I had no issues except two expensive cameras and lens strapped to me like the rifle of a soldier trying to climb. Julie and Max had a bit more difficulty. At one point Julie started to lose grip and slide a bit down the face of a rock. I was scared to death! Cameras thrown off I was after her to grab her hand if needed. She was able to take hold of a crevice and pull herself up. Up and Up we went and literally I took no other pictures as all I could do is concentrate on my family at this point. Finally we reached the summit. The view of the Hudson Valley north and south was amazing. According to Mapmyhike.com we began at 148 feet of elevation and ended at 1,200 feet of elevation. A gain of 983 feet in under a mile.
The Black line represents our hike.
The Black line represents our hike.
Map My Hike rates this climb a a Category One “Cat 1 Climb – These rated climbs are the next most difficult after HC climbs. The exactly same methodology is used in determining their difficulty as HC climbs but they fall next in terms of overall difficulty. All climb scores are based on distance, grade/elevation change, and maximum elevation.” which is only surpassed by a category HC “HC climb – “Hors Categorie” – (a French term for above category) climbs are the hardest rating/score given to any climb. All climb scores are based on distance, grade/elevation change, and maximum elevation. The combination of these factors drives all final climb categories and there is no subjective analysis used in the final scoring of any climb score. HC climbs will traditionally be very long (over 10 miles), very steep (average grades above 8 to 10%), or very high (above 11,000 feet) but again some extremely steep or long climbs could alone qualify it as an HC rated climb.” Julie doesn’t sweat so she gets heated, dizzy quickly. Out of water now and Julie not feeling well I found an ice cold stream where I refilled our empty water bottle. Not to drink unless it was an emergency but to use to keep her cool. Making our way down the mountain and finally reaching our car, we were dirty, tired, hungry and accomplished. I am so proud of my sons. Michael is a natural and he and I will move on to tackle Whiteface Mountain in the Adirondacks. Max on the other hand not as thrilled with the hike and scared at points saying he couldn’t go on, went on and he overcame. Love you!

We drove north now to Beacon, New York for food and made our way to the Yankee Clipper diner http://www.beaconyankeeclipper.com. The menu was huge as expected in a diner. I went right for the full stack of blueberry pancakes with whipped cream, powdered sugar and warm syrup. AHHHHHHHHH! Finished with our lunch we were promising the boys they could swim at the Bear Mountain pool at BEar Mountain State Park. We arrived only to find the pool doesn’t open to June 22nd. We decided it was time to head back home but made a brief drive to the top of Bear Mountain for one last view of the Hudson Valley.

Looking north along the Hudson River and the Hudson Valley from Bear Mountain. Image © Joe Geronimo
Looking north along the Hudson River and the Hudson Valley from Bear Mountain. Image © Joe Geronimo

Arriving home around 1900 tired and hungry again, we took a moment to reflect on the weekends events. We came to the conclusion that we love being a family with the good, bad and indifferent. Here is to our next adventure starting on June 24th as we fly to California for vacation.

Cheers!

Joe