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Photos via Facebook.com/CURES
Photos via Facebook.com/CURES
Trains filled with uncovered garbage were left behind homes in Middle Village over the Fourth of July weekend.

As most Americans were enjoying the smell of hamburgers, hot dogs and fireworks over the Fourth of July weekend, some residents in Middle Village were forced to put up with the stench of open gondolas full of garbage parked behind their homes.

Many people complained when New York & Atlantic Railway (NYA), the company that operates out of the Fresh Pond Rail Yard — which runs through portions of Middle Village, Glendale and Ridgewood — left train cars of rotting waste behind their homes from July 3 to July 5, disrupting their holiday weekend.

“We got reports of foul odors,” said Mary Arnold, co-chair of Civics United for Railroad and Environmental Solutions (CURES). “People have pride in their homes and they have their families over for the holiday and they have this. It’s just insulting. The way [NYA is] acting, it’s unfair, it’s unhealthy, it’s filthy, it’s un-neighborly and it’s totally unnecessary.”

According to CURES, the train cars were slated to be moved out, but due to the long holiday weekend, pickup of the trash wouldn’t occur until after the Fourth of July.

“They park over the holiday when they know they aren’t going to get a pickup, and they take it anyway and bring it into Queens,” Arnold said.

Photo via Facebook.com/CURES

Photo via Facebook.com/CURES

This practice of leaving train cars filled with waste in Middle Village is nothing new to the residents of the neighborhood.

“NYA has been parking trains behind the homes in Middle Village for years and they have one excuse after another as to why they do it,” said Robert Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association (JPCA). “I remember a few years ago they parked trains loaded with solid municipal waste during the long Thanksgiving weekend. NYA is the quintessential bad neighbor, a company that does as they please with no regard for the community.”

One local elected official reached out to the train company to find out why the train cars were parked in Middle Village for the weekend.

“My staff was contacted regarding railroad cars full of garbage being left on the tracks over the July Fourth weekend. We immediately contacted New York and Atlantic Railway,” said Assemblyman Mike Miller. “The explanation that my staff was given regarding this situation was there was a new crew working that weekend. New York and Atlantic Railway decided that leaving garbage behind residents’ houses during the July Fourth weekend was acceptable. Residents had to deal with that foul smell while trying to enjoy their backyard for a holiday weekend. It’s unacceptable that this company continues to [disregard] the community’s quality of life, especially on a holiday weekend. After seven years, you would think that New York and Atlantic Railway could get it right just once.”

According to the railroad company, the train cars were not filled with trash, but rather with construction and demolition (C&D), which would not create foul odors.

“The cars in question were construction and demolition debris and contained no putrescible waste, either municipal or commercial,” said John P. Casellini, spokesperson for NYA. “The contents of C&D cars are the same as those found in a construction dumpster on the street next to a home in any neighborhood undergoing remodeling.”

Casellini suggests that community members reach out directly to NYA with any concerns or problems so they can handle the problem directly and in a more time-efficient manner.

“If the community has concerns with specific cars, we have a long-established protocol which we agreed to with local elected officials and community leaders to provide immediate and verifiable action,” Casellini said. “Despite knowledge of this, the complainant chose to reach out to other parties over the holiday weekend, naturally delaying the response. The New York and Atlantic has worked long and hard to be a good neighbor, and again asks those in the community with concerns to contact us directly, so we can check into the concern, verify if there is an issue, and if so, to immediately address it.”

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Mary Parisen, Chair July 14, 2016 / 05:15PM
NYA lobbyist John Casellini's statements are shockingly disrespectful to State Assemblyman Mike Miller, who directly reached out to NYA on behalf of residents when he heard about NYA parking garbage cars by homes over the holiday. Casellini's tired excuses demonstrate (again!) Anacostia Rail Holdings-New York & Atlantic Railway's culture of contempt -- for the public, public costs, and NYA's failure to fulfill responsibilities under the Transfer Agreement with LIRR. Casellini's assertion that the near constant presence of giant 286,000 pound rail cars of garbage that emit dust, foul odors, and filthy stormwater, and host vectors -- such as mosquitoes -- in residential areas of NYC are the same as the occasional, stationary household dumpster outside a home is simply insulting. After being contacted by a State Assemblyman, NYA permitted its lobbyist say for publication that NYA could help if only citizens followed protocol is ridiculous and insulting. NYA knows exactly where all the cars they pick up come from and where they are stored by NYA for classification and eventual pick-up by CSX. Previously NYA has admitted to Assemblyman Miller in writing that "C&D" Residue rail cars can stink whether they are empty or full, so why is Casellini disputing this again now? What is at the bottom of this latest abusive incident is NYA's private owners Gilbertson and Lieberman/their employees don't want to spend money to do things right, even while their business is totally reliant on LIRR's public assets and many substantial public subsidies. The bottom line here is that once again ARH and NYA have proven that they are incapable of doing things right, don't care, and don't deserve a 10-year renewal of the Transfer Agreement for LIRR's freight railroad. The AHR-NYA PR charm offensive in this article and other publications is no substitute for safe performance that doesn't create unnecessary health, environmental, and quality of life problems for communities and MTA commuters (three derailments of garbage gondolas on MNR and LIRR in 2014-15, and LIRR billed NYA $1.1M+ to clear the 9-15-15 one off the Main Line). Casellini's assertions and ARH-PR charm offensive to secure their 10-year renewal tries to paper over years of unending problems that have only gotten worse in recent years. Shame!!
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