Residents Seek Answers At Farmers’ Oval Session
The fight against noise pollution from the Fresh Pond Railyard and local freight lines took center stage during the Farmers Oval Civic Association meeting last Thursday, June 26, at Ridgewood Baptist Church.
Ridgewood resident Jim Strickler, called for taking steps to get more involved in the effort of ensuring the New York and Atlantic Railway (NYAR) adheres to environmental standards and is sensitive to the quality of life concerns of neighborhoods on its route.
The NYAR is the privately owned freight service that uses the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) tracks to transport goods and waste to and from Long Island.
Civics United for Railroad Environmental Solutions (CURES) was formed in 2009 by a coalition of civic associations along the railway to voice quality of life issues and pressure the railway to adhere to stricter standards.
Strickler said the trains, which are elevated through Ridgewood’s northeast neighborhoods, have become louder lately as they link up, waking him in the night.
He likened the clanking similar to being on an army camp, saying the trains sounded like explosions and sometimes even shakes the ground.
After six emails to the NYAR with no response, he’s looking for other avenues, such as FOCA, to voice his concerns.
FOCA President Dieter Vey explained that there’s been a citywide push to minimize transporting garbage via New York waterways, and instead use ground transportation such as trains and trucks.
To further complicate the situation, it was noted, the locomotives operate at zero emissions standards and pay little attention to the neighborhoods they pass.
Many rail cars are also carrying uncovered waste that, when stopped, and stink up the neighborhood for long periods of time, explained Vey. He noted the garbage trains take a “scenic cruise,” from Long Island to a Hudson River crossing upstate, then to points south.
CURES and local politicians, including Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi, have successfully pressured the railway to refit some of their locomotives to operate with higher emissions standards, costing them $3 million for just a couple of trains, according to Vey. They also seek to have the railcars covered to contain the smell and the debris.
The coalition’s work is far from over. “We got to keep pushing and pushing,” said Vey. “If we all get together, we will have a bigger voice.”
The Farmers Oval Civic Association will not meet in July and August. Its next meeting will take place on Thursday, Sept. 25, at 7:30 p.m. at Ridgewood Baptist Church, located at 64-13 Catalpa Ave.