To The Daily Sun,
As a 37-year veteran of the tourist railroad industry, I was appalled by the mere idea of removing state-owned rails in favor of a bike/walking trail. Such a study is indeed a waste of tax money that can be better spent elsewhere. I would urge caution for all as there has been a growing trend of bike/walk/hike trail groups who have been ramping up efforts across the country to rip up rails in favor of trails. Many trails groups have been approached by these well organized rail "hit squads" that seek to continue their efforts to have rails removed wherever they can.
As of yet, nobody has been able to receive a good explanation as to why they so fervently advocate rail removal. Fortunately, a recent N.Y. Supreme Court ruling found that trails advocates in that state were indeed out of line in their bid to have rails in the Adirondack State Park area removed in favor of a trail.
Similar to the rails in Laconia, the railroad there also hosts active tourist trains. In short, active tourist railroads bring far more revenue to the communities in which they operate in than do trails. They also provide seasonal employment as well. Therefore, it would be far wiser to either seek a different trail route or widen the existing grade to provide rail and train, safely separated by a fence to prevent injury. One must remember, once rails are lifted, it is nearly impossible to ever replace them again and a significant part of local heritage will be gone forever.
Scott J. Whitney