About four years ago, the increase in railroad activity through Middle Village became a nuisance, especially to those families that live near the rail corridor that extends North from the rail yards.
Activity was exacerbated by the daily pickup of freight that had been parked overnight just North of 69th Place. This daily occurrence was usually done at around 5:00 AM and often lasted between 25 – 45 minutes. There are times some of the freight which was left overnight had a foul odor to it. This of course has been denied by the railroads. During holiday periods freight has been parked at this site for up to four days. In addition to freight issues there is the constant moving of empty cars being transported at all hours of the day and night, and the noise from crossing the switch at this location as well as noise from the cars slamming whenever the train stops or starts. Finally, there is the idling! There can be between two and four locomotives spewing diesel fumes while idling noisily, usually at 69th Lane and sometimes at other points along this corridor. This has sometimes been timed out at over one hour in duration.
Elected officials have been contacted continually regarding this situation and visits were made at this location by several of them. Sen. Joseph Addabbo, Chief of Staff Lydon Sleeper (Councilwoman Crowley’s office) and State Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi all have witnessed first hand the 5:00 AM pickup and the disruption created by these operations. Many other agencies have been made aware of this situation including the NYC Dept. of Health, and NYC Dept. of Sanitation which plans to move a great deal of freight through this community. While some of these people have been more active in trying to solve the problems created by these operations, there have been many others that have disregarded them completely and have idly stood by doing nothing. I have also been sending virtually on a daily basis, an e-mail which included Senator Anthony Weiner, Borough President Helen Marshall, Community Board 5, Assemblyman Mike Miller and Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley stating some of the daily operations around this locale. I have even confronted Anthony Weiner at the Middle Village Property Owners meeting regarding this situation about six months ago. He promised a study of the issues within two months. This never happened! His office and most of the others do not even respond to any of the complaints mentioned. Helen Marshall’s office sole input was to allow a meeting between certain railway officials and some of the above mentioned people. Margaret Markey’s input was to use triple glazing on windows to reduce noise, thereby enclosing us in a bubble. No thought as to being able to enjoy your home or back yard or the ramifications as to the health effects on the residents here. Legislation attempts have so far all failed, probably because of a lack of concerted effort by all parties.
There are solutions! Other communities are in harmony with the railroads as to the noise issues by installing sound barriers. Under no circumstances should the railroads be allowed to park smelly rail cars or idle in residential areas. Period! There was some promise of hope in solving one of the problems, a beginning anyway, by moving the pickup point farther South by the cemetery at 69th Street. We were told this would occur toward the latter part of 2010. This never happened! We were again told that this move would occur by the end of January 2011. As of this writing, 01/28/11, we continue to wait.
I have stated that meetings with the railroad should include some of the affected people, not just the elected officials. In speaking with them, there is never the full grasp of all the problems involved. While they profess to understand our problem, they do not live it as we do so they cannot ever know the full extent of what we experience. More importantly, if there were a more concerted effort by all of the elected people who are being paid to represent us I am convinced that we would not be where we are today. It is now four years and to date there has been no change to the situation at hand! Not one promise has been kept! There has not been any improvement of any of the situations mentioned and at this pace no improvement is in sight!