Letters: Revote required; corridor is public property

ktx america stampTime for another vote

Over the past two weeks we’ve read articles on how screwed up the plan is to build a new high school. It’s time for the district and school board to declare the existing vote to build a new high school null and void and schedule a new vote on whatever you have in mind.

At the moment we don’t know what you want to build, what it would provide in the area of improved instruction, what its size will be, what it will cost, what is the schedule to get it done, and most important of all, what is the district taxpayer cost obligation over what period of time.

In the process of documenting the above and scheduling a new vote you will begin to rebuild our confidence in your ability to use our money wisely.  For now we don’t believe you have the ability to organize a two-car funeral much less intelligently oversee a multimillion-dollar construction project.


Dr. Padalino, the ball is in your court.

Ronald E. Dietl, Kingston


It’s not the railroad’s corridor

Meg Carey, in her letter “Rail and trail would be win-win”, March 26, seems to be acting with an air of authority in matters pertaining to the Catskill Mountain Railroad Company, Inc.

She says she could support a county legislature resolution to “reach an agreeable solution for all parties regarding the use of the former Ulster & Delaware railroad corridor” and that “It’s time for the trail/cycling community to accept that the railroad has its place from Kingston to the Ashokan Reservoir, and perhaps further … ” and that “Many in Ulster County feel that keeping the railroad and building a trail alongside would be a win-win solution.”

Nice! Everyone likes a win-win solution! CMRRC, Inc. can use its new-found projected profits to fund what Ms. Carey says will satisfy “the many.” That would be a restored-to-tip-top-condition railroad that is up to federal Class 1 standards for passenger use, and a multi-use trail built to federal standards as well alongside it, with all the “improvements” deeded to the taxpayer owners of the corridor, before another lease could be considered.

But, it’s a not certain that CMRRC, Inc. will still be in the picture beyond the end of their lease, 13 months from now, given their current lease and lawsuit problems. With the end of the CMRRC, Inc.’s lease right around the corner, shouldn’t the railroad first be required to submit a plan to their landlord defining how they’re going to remove their equipment from County property by May 2016?

What is certain, and goes beyond the wish for a resolution that could be used to stall, delay, postpone and obfuscate an issue that’s already been studied and decided are these facts: the “railroad” doesn’t own the corridor or have any claim to it. They’re tenants. The 185,000 Ulster County taxpayer owners, through representative government and enacted legislation, wisely committed to dedicate this public resource as a multi-use trail for the benefit of residents and tourists, with rail where it’s appropriate, not a limited-use, private-corporation-owned amusement park ride that excludes the owners by blocking the gateway to the trail in Kingston.

Nick Mercurio, Rosendale

There are 5 comments

  1. CP

    Mr. Mercurio, you are so full of “what if’s” that I’m not sure you see “what is.” The CMRR has had new leadership over the past few years that has proven itself dramatically in 2014. Last year’s income was ten times the previous year, and the railroad would have shown a healthy profit – which would have been put back into improving the right-of-way and rolling stock – had it not been needed to defend itself in court from what appear to this layman to be largely frivolous lawsuits.

    It seems to me that a small but voluble and hostile group somehow has it in for the CMRR despite its recent success and future plans as outlined in its detailed business plan. Thousands of new tourists have come to the city of Kingston and to Ulster County. Hundreds of thousands of new dollars have come with them – all due to programs successfully executed by the Catskill Mountain Railroad. This is what the beginnings of success looks like – for the city, county, and yes, the railroad.

    By all means, Mr. Mercurio – put it to a popular vote and bypass the politicians. I think you’ll see strong support for the unique Ulster & Delaware RAIL corridor to be maintained as a railroad and for its opportunities for success as a regional attraction to be increased, not removed. Add a trail, sure, but scrapping the rails is irreversible. I suggest you look to “what is” and very well could be in the future, not a bunch of negative “what ifs.”

  2. Derek Balling

    Mr. Mercurio:

    Just so we’re all clear: as soon as the county pulls up the railroad ties and tracks, the County doesn’t have “claim” to the corridor either.

    The majority of those easements exist for the purpose of rail. When the rail goes away, so do the easements.

    Sure, you can try railbanking (which I’m not an expert on, but I’ve read some compelling arguments that the corridor in question is not a legitimate candidate for railbanking)… or you can try eminent domaining the corridor. Both of those solutions are going to involve costly lawsuits and/or cash outlay to get the “track-less” land back in County hands.

    Who’s going to pay for that, because it darned well better not be *my* tax dollars…

  3. Tom Healy

    Does anyone think that the DEP really cares about a trail? Or keeping ulster county residents heathly? With all the land NYC is buying up to keep it from building a filtration plant. With the 100 year history it has in Ulster county, For the few million in cost in building a trail. it, A) gets NYC off the hook (or so it seems) from county executive lawsuites (That have now disappeared) for muddy/terbid water discharges into the lower Esopus. Thus The county executive is selling out all those affected by it. B) If the DEP succeeds with Heins help in getting the tracks pulled for 11 miles “with no trains allowed” I would think the DEP just hit the jackpot legally for the cost of a few million .It will now will have much more control over this stretch than the county has now. The rights the county now has legally with a lease that keeps the Railroad intact along the resevoire in peptuity. If Ulster ripps up the track, with NYC saying “No trains” Ulster county has just given away the rights of the corridor for 11 miles. NYC would now have a Control that can now be much easily argued in court. Since they have been given stewardship of the corridor. And that is exactly what NYC has been doing to control upstate land for 100 years. Does getting rid of the railroad mean that much to Mike Hein? It Just one terrorist threat or incident and the corridor will be closed to everyone by NYC . as they have done after 911 So, No train or no tracks could very well = no trail. the DEP wins big for a few million dollars. Maybe that’s their plan. Thank’s to Ulster county and Mike Hein for giving it away.

    1. CO

      It is not too late to let the railroad be a railroad and to continue and expand its success. Build a trail as well, if you will, but allow the railroad to continue to bring new visitors, new interest and new money to Kingston and the county. A vital and functioning Kingston-to-Glenford (or even Phoenicia) will be a unique regional attraction.

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