Law­mak­ers eye re­mov­ing sec­tion of rail­road track in city of Kingston

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Pa­tri­cia R. Doxsey pdoxsey@free­manon­ @pat­ti­at­free­man on Twit­ter

KINGSTON, N.Y. » Ul­ster County law­mak­ers will vote later this month to re­move a sec­tion of rail­road track run­ning through the city of Kingston, de­spite an ef­fort by some leg­is­la­tors to de­lay ac­tion on the plan.

Ul­ster County Leg­is­la­ture Chair­man Ken Ronk said he has filed a pe­ti­tion to dis­charge the mea­sure from the Leg­is­la­ture’s En­ergy and En­vi­ron­ment Com­mit­tee, where it was de­feated re­cently.

The res­o­lu­tion would de­clare the re­moval of a 0.35mile sec­tion of track be­tween El­men­dorf Street and the I-587 over­pass with­out en­vi­ron­men­tal harm and au­tho­rize the county to re­move the rails and ties.

Ronk, R-Wal­lkill, said the stretch of track tar­geted for re­moval un­der the res­o­lu­tion has al­ready been iden­ti­fied in a county pol­icy adopted unan­i­mously by the Leg­is­la­ture for con­ver­sion to a pedes­trian trail.

The trail, to be known as the Mid­town lin­ear park, will run along the for­mer Ul­ster & Delaware rail cor­ri­dor be­tween Cor­nell Street and Kingston Plaza.

Ul­ster County Ex­ec­u­tive Michael Hein has said the park will not only cre­ate a recre­ational trail, but also pro­vide a route for peo­ple who don’t have ve­hi­cles to reach Kingston’s ma­jor su­per­mar­ket, Han­naford, in Kingston Plaza.

Dur­ing an En­ergy and En­vi­ron­ment Com­mit-

tee meet­ing held Thurs­day, Sept. 6, Deputy Plan­ning Com­mis­sioner Chris White said the area along that stretch of track has be­come a blight and in­creas­ingly dan­ger­ous for both the home­less pop­u­la­tion that has made the area their home as well as po­lice who must re­spond to emer­gen­cies.

In Novem­ber 2017, the body of An­thony Garro was found along the along the county-owned rail cor­ri­dor be­neath a bridge on El­men­dorf Street, just off Broad­way, in Mid­town.

Seth Lyons, 20, of Ul­ster Park, has been charged with mur­der in Garro’s death. He is sched­uled to stand trial be­gin­ning Sept. 17.

White said the city of Kingston has asked the county to make the area

more ac­ces­si­ble to pa­trol ve­hi­cles.

“Right now, if we were to have some­body pa­trol there, they’d have to get out and pa­trol on foot,” White said, adding that the area is lit­tered with hy­po­der­mic nee­dles left by drug users who fre­quent the area.

White said the county in­tends to take up the rails and rail­road ties and grade the area, which will make it pos­si­ble for pa­trol ve­hi­cles to ac­cess the area.

Leg­is­la­tor Manna Jo Greene though said the county should con­sider cov­er­ing the tracks rather than re­mov­ing them. She said the county should also con­sider that the Catskill Moun­tain Rail­road, which cur­rently op­er­ates on a stretch of the track be­tween the Kingston Plaza and West Hur­ley, has com­mis­sioned a study to de­ter­mine whether the line could be used for freight trans­porta­tion.

“I think this needs to go to the full (Trail Rail Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee) for dis­cus­sion,” said Greene, D-Rosendale.

Leg­is­la­tor Joseph Maloney, D-Saugerties, also called for the mea­sure to go to the ad­vi­sory com­mit­tee, which, he said, could look into what will hap­pen to the home­less peo­ple who live along the cor­ri­dor.

Ronk, though, said the is­sue of what is done with that sec­tion of track has been set­tled by a leg­isla­tive res­o­lu­tion.

“Any­body who thinks they’re go­ing to run freight on the rail line is un­abashedly out of their mind,” he said, adding “the peo­ple who want to bring this to the Trail Rail Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee are the peo­ple who want to con­tinue to lit­i­gate some­thing that has been set­tled since 2015.”

The Leg­is­la­ture is ex­pected to vote on the mea­sure at its Thurs­day, Sept. 20 meet­ing.

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