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Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Placid
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Author:  Dougvv [ Thu Apr 06, 2017 3:59 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla

Hi,

Assumptions always bit people in the rear. They ASSUMED that the railroad outright owned the right of way and never knew enough to dig back into the history of what happened when people wanted the time machine of the railroad (when the only other way was animal power).

I hope this slows other rails to trails efforts. Railbanking is great and as long as the rails stay in place.

Doug vV

Author:  Larry Lovejoy [ Thu Apr 06, 2017 6:14 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla

The key word here is “quitclaimed”. A quitclaim deed effectively says “I don’t know if I really own this property, but whatever right, title or interest I might have I hereby sell to you.” In this case, the buyer, NYSEG, may have not done their homework or may have thought they could negotiate separate easements with the persons holding the reversionary rights, but never followed through.

Curious sidelight here: The anti-trail folks say the project “will also destroy the habitat for countless migrating and nesting ducks, raptors, birds, and mammals. It will directly impact the nesting site of countless snapping turtles, painted turtles, and other amphibians…”. But I can’t help but notice the rotting railroad crossties in the banner photograph of their webpage. If this old DL&W trackbed is a thriving wildlife habitat, perhaps old ties are not quite as terrible an environmental hazard as some other assert – such as the authorities who brought down the hammer on the guy who “stole the bridge” out in Indiana?

/s/ Larry
Lawrence G. Lovejoy, P.E.

Author:  Randy Gustafson [ Thu Apr 06, 2017 8:59 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla

If an argument over title does go legal, it goes back to the original deed instrument to try to clarify the language, and one of the most vague lines is 'for railroad purposes'. That doesn't necessarily establish fee-simple or reversionary by itself. One of the more interesting cases I ran into went deep enough into the records to see how much was paid for the agreement, to determine if that was then (back in the mid-1800's) market value for actual land or an easement. One state licensed land appraiser ruled it fee simple, another equally qualified appraiser ruled it an easement. It went in front of the STB, they bailed, saying that for land purposes the state court was superior, but for valuation purposes if the value was fee simple the seller wanting the higher value would have to get a warranty deed to prove it (which basically converts a quit-claim to an actual title).

Couldn't get the warranty deed, two parties agreed to split the potential value difference, track stayed, another quit-claim deed issued to kick the can down the road, it's still running. Took about three years in the STB and courts to settle.

It's also very different from state to state as the STB has ruled that once the track is gone, it's not their role to interpret real estate deeds. Most railroads were built by a state charter giving them condemnation rights, and the older the deeds are the fuzzier they can get. I got to see the original 1850's deed between an Erie predecessor and an indian tribe written in quill pen and signed with an "X" by the chief. It's still valid, and once you can decipher it, pretty clearly an easement in intent. And if you set foot on that right of way even today, the tribe very much knows that, too. Not your land.

I'd like to think all the delay here goes back to the 'uh-oh' when they actually find the deeds and realize, hmmm. This may not hold up. You certainly are on shaky ground NOW to try to railbank it, as the normal way is for the railroad to go from common-carrier to abandonment to salvage, and cut a deal with the trail folks to preserve the ROW and keep the liability for interim trail use. That's the way it was supposed to work, and not the way it is here. In order to preserve a 'railroad' easement, the 'railroad' interest has to be held superior to the trail interest, and be voluntarily (and theoretically temporarily) allowed to remove the physical track assets. Using the rails-to-trails act to involuntarily be superior to railroad interests in preserving easements is fundamentally against the intent of the Act.

If you like epic ROW land battles, the STB website is host to the exchange between the Beaufort County Water & Sewer Authority vs. a whole slew of landowners that didn't want a trail. Railroad was state owned, abandoned voluntarily, and a trail planned. County had major utilities on linear occupation, landowners countered that this was all easement and they never had right to do that, let alone put down a trail. A common-carrier intrastate railroad was organized to try to 'hold' the ROW, that was contested and even the STB looked sideways at that.

Finally, in an epic court decision, the state court found in favor of the property owners but also said the utilities and trail could stay - but the settlement amount was $33 million for 18 miles of right of way.

I'm told its a beautiful trail. It better be.

Author:  J3a-614 [ Thu Apr 06, 2017 10:46 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla

A tangent and perhaps applicable story in regard to the Catskill Mountain Scenic, which is also faced with trail troubles.

https://hudsonvalleyone.com/2017/04/06/ ... ment-24154

One of the interesting things in it is the "concern" for the eagles near the Ashokan Reservoir. Those eagles shouldn't have any problems if the experience of the South Branch Valley Railroad's freight trains and the Potomac Eagle excursion train that is also there are any indication. There are, I believe, multiple pairs of eagles living in "the Trough" of the South Branch of the Potomac. The Potomac Eagle even makes a feature of them.

The Trough is also quite isolated. The only way in is by train, canoe, or shoes. There are no roads there--and the trains seem to get along quite well with the wildlife, including the eagles. Sounds a lot like the Adirondacks!

http://www.potomaceagle.info/

Author:  jayrod [ Thu Apr 06, 2017 11:04 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla

Bald eagles have nested right next to the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic and it doesn't seem to bother them (the eagles, that is).

Author:  PaulWWoodring [ Fri Apr 07, 2017 9:52 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla

jayrod wrote:
Bald eagles have nested right next to the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic and it doesn't seem to bother them (the eagles, that is).


However, the NPS bans pedestrians from the area during the nesting season, and the railroad is told to run the train as quietly as possible through there during that time.

Author:  Randy Gustafson [ Fri Apr 07, 2017 10:20 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla

Nothing you do on that corridor, including a trail, will go down quietly with the adjacent landowners, period. That applies to the Adirondacks, as well. Any possible tactic to obstruct or delay anything that puts people on it by any method is going to be combatted, whether they are on a train, a railbike, a bicycle, or just walking by. Eagles are another convenient diversion of that essential issue.

Having met the Rail Explorers folks, they will do everything humanly possible to work around this and work with a community. But you can still pile up enough bureaucrats, permits, reporters, etc., so that they can rather easily put all the equipment on a semi and move it to less hostile territory. They are not exactly as captive as a railroad. Their proven success in Saranac as an economic impact concept is not to be dismissed, but the neighbors and the Adirondack Park Agency made it very difficult for them.

One of the biggest differences of anything on rails (train or railbike) is that on a for-profit or non-profit concept, they have paying customers, a business, and that cash flow maintains the corridor for regular use, if not catastrophic damage. No trail concept provides any income flow for maintenance, and for the most part, falls on the back of the locals either for volunteer work or the local government for direct maintenance cost. The adjacent landowners may see part of that cost in their taxes or not, but the community at large rather than a business entity has to cover it somehow. That mental disconnect is still out there and largely ignored, along with Economics 101 on how visitors, direct employment, support businesses, and spending flow though a community to support itself.

The real solution here that gets ignored is that there really needed to be a new trailhead established right at 28A and 28 in Boiceville, just inside the NYCDEP boundary. Any alternatives we looked at needed that. But NYCDEP was unwilling to let one foot of track remain inside the boundary as contrary to the 'trail only' alternative. Without that, the 'trailhead' gets pushed back up the road toward these private property owners, and they aren't happy. Same situation existed on the east end at West Hurley, a safe and effective transfer point between rail and trail users that work for both was blocked. NYCDEP's mission is to protect the reservoir, not invite more people in, so don't be surprised if some how, some way, barriers compromise the trail usage as well. APA's mission isn't that much different, really, in that they have no reason to encourage more people into a wilderness area or allow any development of any kind, at all, being the ultimate zoning board for about six million acres of land. It's about as tough an environment for business (for-profit or not-for-profit) as you can find in these two locations.

Author:  J3a-614 [ Fri Apr 07, 2017 1:03 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla

Randy Gustafson wrote:
NYCDEP's mission is to protect the reservoir, not invite more people in, so don't be surprised if some how, some way, barriers compromise the trail usage as well. APA's mission isn't that much different, really, in that they have no reason to encourage more people into a wilderness area or allow any development of any kind, at all, being the ultimate zoning board for about six million acres of land. It's about as tough an environment for business (for-profit or not-for-profit) as you can find in these two locations.


For us, I think it's worse than that. I think it's ABR syndrome--Anything But Rail.

It's not limited to the Adirondacks or the Catskills, though it seems to be worse in New York than some other places.

You find it with trail groups trying to tear out a railroad in Santa Cruze, and in trying to rip out a former NKP line in Indiana. You find it in anti-railroad sentiment to modern rail services in Florida and Texas, and to a new belt line around Chicago. You find it in many cities that struggle to bring back trolley cars in modern form.

It's a cultural problem, and it's very hard to go against.

We may have one advantage, at least as far as modern services are concerned, and that is that much of ABR syndrome seems to be generational. It seems to be most strong currently in people over 62 or 65 (and based on past experience, it fades after about 90 or so). In other words, a lot of the opposition comes from people who grew up in the days of "Hot Rod Girl," "Happy Motoring," and "See the USA in your Chevrolet." It's not universal, and you have some environmental types who aren't in the pattern, but that's most of what it is. I should know, I saw this 20-odd years ago, when the age range was between about 40 and 70.

Author:  Dougvv [ Fri Apr 07, 2017 2:37 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla

Hi,

My take is slightly different. Anything NEW is sexy, anything old is GET RID OF IT.

Railroads are old technology that you and I understand does not mean obsolete. However many think of old as worthless. Does not matter if quarter horses and cowboys are still the best way to herd cattle sometimes. Animal powered transportation is obsolete except in tourist places.

I've run into this too many times. I think this outlook is a superset of your ABR.

Oh well. 'nuff said for me.

Doug vV

Author:  David Dewey [ Fri Apr 07, 2017 5:17 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla

As for the Eagles, back when the McCloud River Railway was a going concern, there was a diatomaceous earth mine that wanted rail service. The railroad was denied permission to build a branch to the mine because of an Eagle's nest nearby. Instead a road and trucks were use, making more dust and a larger footprint on the forest. The craziest thing about all this is that the railroad crews knew the eagle's nest was there, they even named the eagle "Lucius Bebbe" because he would fly down to a trackside fence post and watch the train go by--who said "Railfanning is for the Birds!"?

Author:  stephenpiwowarski [ Fri Apr 07, 2017 10:32 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla

Has anyone involved with this situation made an effort to get the National Trust for Historic Preservation involved? It seems that some of their interests are at stake since the corridor is a landmark.

Steve

Author:  railfan261 [ Sat Apr 08, 2017 6:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla

Randy Gustafson wrote:
One of the biggest differences of anything on rails (train or railbike) is that on a for-profit or non-profit concept, they have paying customers, a business, and that cash flow maintains the corridor for regular use, if not catastrophic damage. No trail concept provides any income flow for maintenance, and for the most part, falls on the back of the locals either for volunteer work or the local government for direct maintenance cost. The adjacent landowners may see part of that cost in their taxes or not, but the community at large rather than a business entity has to cover it somehow. That mental disconnect is still out there and largely ignored, along with Economics 101 on how visitors, direct employment, support businesses, and spending flow though a community to support itself.


Well said, Randy.
One thing I would like to add to your perceptive comments on rail vs. trail is that if a rail line is damaged, chances are good it will be put back into service as quickly as possible (unless the railroad views the line as an encumbrance and decides the damage is a good excuse to abandon the line). If a rail trail is damaged, it will stay in limbo until the group that owns it gets the money to fix it. Sometime, maybe, when The Powers That Be pony up. Case in point: Three Rivers Parks owns the former Minneapolis & St. Louis main line from St. Louis Park to Chaska, Minnesota, and operates it as a rail trail (natch). Back in 2014, "unsafe conditions" caused by mudslides on one of the Louie's most scenic points, Chaska Hill, caused that portion of the trail to be closed. Three years have passed and still Chaska Hill remains closed. I was just by Chaska Hill today, and I thought Back when Lucian Sprague was in charge of the Louie, he would not have let Chaska Hill fall into limbo! Alas, Three Rivers has, and who knows when the trail will be reopened. What are the odds something similar would happen if this proposed rail trail to Lake Placid, New York comes into being? I'd say 50/50.

Author:  railfan261 [ Tue Apr 11, 2017 8:41 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla

One more observation: rail trail corridors are no assurance that a rail corridor's historic fabric will be preserved. Three Rivers Parks, for example, has made alterations to its rail trails where they cross busy streets to facilitate better pedestrian safety. While this is understandable, the changes also rip holes in the routes' historic fabric. They also make potentially returning the corridors to rail use very problematic. This is yet another reason the Lake Placid corridor is better off kept intact.

Author:  Chris Webster [ Mon May 01, 2017 5:41 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla

Last week's news:
Quote:
A Draft Adirondack Rail Trail Conceptual Plan, which outlines the general design and features of the future 34-mile multi-use recreational trail on the bed of the former Adirondack Railroad between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake, has been released.

According to a news release, the plan includes a 10-foot-wide stone dust tread for the full 34-mile length of the trail with shoulders a minimum width of 2.5 feet on each side. The trail will connect to hiking, biking, paddling, fishing and camping opportunities on adjacent lands and waters of the Adirondack Forest Preserve.

The “rail-or-trail” issue has been a bone of contention for years with railroad backers wanting to run the railway all the way to Lake Placid while trail advocates originally wanted to tear up the rail between Big Moose and Saranac Lake and construct the recreational trail for hikers, bikers and snowmobilers.
and
Quote:
The Draft Conceptual Plan is available to view or download on the DEC website at http://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/62816.html.

Public comments will be accepted until close of business June 2. Written comments may be mailed to Senior Forester Steve Guglielmi, NYSDEC Region 5, P.O. Box 296, Ray Brook, NY 12977 or sent by email to: r5.ump@dec.ny.gov.

Link to the full story: The Observer Dispatch: Meetings scheduled on Adirondack trail plan

Author:  Chris Webster [ Mon May 01, 2017 5:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Adirondack Park Agency oks scrapping RR line to Lake Pla

Here are two more articles about the latest public comment period....
Quote:
TUPPER LAKE, N.Y. -- State officials are taking public comments until June 2 on plans for a 34-mile bike path through the heart of the Adirondack Park.

Plans call for tearing up 19-century railroad tracks between Tupper Lake and Lake Placid and creating a 10-foot-wide recreational trail with a stone dust surface suitable for biking, walking, skiing, snowmobiling and other pursuits.
Link to the full story:
The Record News - Public comment begins on plans for 34-mile Adirondack bike trail in place of existing rails

and
Quote:
May 01, 2017 — State officials are taking public comments all this month on plans for a 34-mile bike path between Tupper lake and Lake Placid.

Plans call for tearing up old railroad tracks between the two villages and creating a 10-foot-wide recreational trail with a stone dust surface suitable for biking, walking, skiing, snowmobiling and other pursuits.

State officials will hold two meetings on the rail-trail plan next week, in Tupper Lake and Ray Brook.
Link to the full story:
North County Public Radio - Informational meetings this week on Adirondack rail trail plan

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