To the best of my knowledge, perhaps for the past ten years the communities of Glendale, Middle Village and Maspeth have lodged complaints with local officials against the CSX Railroad. The complaints are regarding the environmental pollution created by the noxious fumes billowing from the ancient diesel engines used to assemble more than fifty rail cars to make up a train. Yes, I realize that the midnight noise of the coupling and uncoupling of rail cars does disrupt a good night’s sleep, but although that is unavoidable to some degree, it could be mitigated through negotiations with NY &Atlantic management. The question of diesel engines idling under private homes can easily be solved by installing approximately 1.5 miles of track along the existing roadbed.
However, in addition to the long standing health hazard of noxious diesel fumes being inhaled in one’s home, which should have been properly addressed years ago, we now have rats, rodents and raccoons that threaten our local eateries, church-goers and children at play.
The March/April 2012 issue of the Juniper Berry in the Neighborhood Hall of Shame section contained two excellent photos that clearly illustrate how the rats, rodents and raccoons are drawn to and enter this site and threaten the sanitary conditions and safety of the local area. The photos give people the impression that the owner of Phillies Restaurant on Eliot Avenue and 74th Street in Middle Village is neglectful in maintaining their property despite the fact that Phillies has erected a cyclone fence twice at their expense – it is not Phillies’ property. Furthermore Phillies has no authority at this time to prevent anyone from driving a vehicle onto this railroad property. This is a situation that the community must address through our elected officials. And, like any other issue that this community is burdened with, the Juniper Park Civic Association will be in the forefront to resolve this issue.
Below, I have included a section of the NYS Railroad Law, which is the legal basis for our complaint: N.Y. Railroad Law 52-B –
Fences along right of way
Notwithstanding the provisions of sections fifty-two, fifty-two-a, or fifty-two-c or of any other law, general or special, every railroad corporation shall erect and thereafter maintain a fence or fences along the boundary line of its right of way whenever the commissioner of transportation after a hearing on notice to such railroad corporation shall determine it to be necessary for the public welfare and shall by order so direct. The order of the commissioner of transportation may prescribe the height, length, materials and design of such fence or fences.
Despite the fact that Railroad Law is quite complex, I believe that the welfare of the people of this community is overriding and that we have sanity on our side. This is not a political issue that can be strangled by debate. It is a health and safety matter that must be resolved forthwith.