Updated June 3, 5:05 p.m.
An odoriferous open-top rail car, filled to capacity with construction and demolition debris, has been parked for several weeks in the Fresh Pond Railyard, directly across the street from Glendale homes, raising the ire of nearby residents.
Just an orange mesh lies atop the debris of the car at the corner of 68th Place and Otto Road, leaving it exposed to the elements of nature, according to one activist.
“When you have open containers like this, you leave the communities open to odors and debris,” said Mary Parisen, chair of Civics United for Railroad Environmental Solutions (CURES) civic group. “The orange top is not sufficient when the railcars are traveling near schools, parks and homes. These open rail cars are hosts for vectors, odors and storm runoff. Our communities cannot be held hostage by the state of New York to these conditions.”
“The railroad won’t move it. The rail car has a defect, which is why it is parked here,” she added. “The community shouldn’t be subjugated to vermin, raccoons or even rats. These long, heavy rail cars have been creating structural damage to homes, with seismic vibrations, and keeping residents awake all hours of the night.”
The rail yard is operated by New York and Atlantic Railway, which leases the site from the Long Island Rail Road for its freight operations.
A resident of the area believes that something has to be done about this rail car near his property.
“I’m not crazy about that, it’s been here over a week,” said Peter Germano, resident of 68th Place and Otto Road. “They shouldn’t leave it like that. You get a strong wind or some rain and it can get worse.”
CURES has urged Joseph Martens, commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), and elected officials for the complete containerization of all waste moved by rail, not just demolition and construction residuals.
“If you put a solid lid on top of the rail cars, you will be protecting the community since they are traveling though densely populated neighborhoods,” Parisen said. “The state needs to be responsible for this.”
In May, seven local elected officials, including state Senator Joseph Addabbo and Borough President Melinda Katz, penned a letter to Martens asking him to consider implementing the use of solid lids on rail cars carrying waste near communities.
“Additionally, we would like to follow up on the use of hard lids on all freight rail carts carrying putrescible waste,” the letter stated. “The use of solid covers to restrict pollution is a strong measure that would benefit our constituents and all New Yorkers.”
Paul Victor, New York and Atlantic Railway president, confirmed that the rail car is off the tracks and near the fencing by Otto Road. He said the car is there because it is awaiting parts for a repair before it can be put back on the tracks and moved.
He also said that the orange mesh atop the garbage in the rail car is used to signify that it is filled with construction and demolition debris, and not any other type of garbage.