By Joe Anuta
Members of a western Queens civic association rejected plans by CSX railroad company to move a noisy piece of equipment farther away from a residential area last week.
Civics United for Railroad Environment said it did not simply want to take the problem and relocate it one block away.
“They were going to move it 800 feet and we measured between 400 and 500 feet,” said Robert Holden of the Juniper Park Civic Association, who spoke about the CSX proposal at a recent meeting. “It’s right across the street from other homes.”
The piece of equipment in question is a compression hose that the trains use to essentially charge up their brakes.
The problem is that the hose is located in the heart of a few residential blocks near Juniper Boulevard South between 69th Place and 69th Lane.
Sometimes the trains can idle for hours while charging the brakes, according to residents who live near the tracks, and give off pollution as exhaust.
In addition, the compression hose marks the point where the trains start their journey through western Queens and over the Hell Gate Bridge. The trains typically take off at around 5 a.m., and are loud enough to rattle the nearby residences.
“We don’t want a railyard in our backyards,” Holden said. “We never had it before and we shouldn’t have to put up with it.”
To alleviate the problem, CSX, which transports garbage and construction waste out of the city via the Hell Gate Bridge, offered to move the compression hose about a block away, southwest of its current location.
But members of the community said that was not far enough and would just shift the problem to other people — even though some of those people are dead.
All Faiths Cemetery abuts the train tracks between 69th Street and Metropolitan Avenue, and owner Dan Austin ï»¿said that the noise and pollution from the trains have been causing his cemetery problems for three to four years.
“People can’t pray,” he said at the meeting. “You’re not dumping this in my back yard.”
Austin said he was upset that the community would think of pushing the problem on the cemetery.
“There’s no respect for the dead,” he said. “Show me how a community treats its dead, and I’ll show you what kind of community that is.”
But City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) said she hoped that the proposal was a step in the right direction.
“Middle Village residents who live by the railway have been burdened for years by the added traffic and negligent practices of some rail vendors and operators,” she said in a statement. “I believe CSX understands how important it is to work with the local elected officials and the residents to bring about a resolution that works for all.” Many at the civic meeting were worried that the problems associated with the trains — pollution, noise and the smell of the garbage — will be compounded when nearly twice as much garbage could be carted out by rail as part of the city’s Solid Waste Management Plan when a new garbage station opens at Review Avenue.
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.