Letters: Don’t squander tourist train potential; the mayor and his city; support the trail

ktx hudsonfultonstampDon’t squander tourist train potential

I am Bill Ford, the 92-year-old “baby” brother of Edwin Ford, Kingston’s city historian of over 35 years. While Ed strives to remain apolitical, I am not. I call myself a “Lincoln Republican” out of respect for my grandfather, Albert Ford, who I knew for 13 years until his death in 1936. He voted for Abraham Lincoln. I myself am a combat veteran of World War II, having fought as a rifleman in the 38th Infantry Regiment of the 2nd Infantry Division in the European Theater of Operations.

I was born in a family farmhouse in Highland on April 4, 1923. I arrived in Kingston in 1928, following the sale of the farm, and later graduated from Kingston High School in 1941. After a varied and successful career, my retirement led me to Florida and then to Texas. I returned to Kingston in 2014 after the death of my wife, Thelma. We raised three sons during our marriage of 70 years. Kingston is once again my home and I’m very glad to be here.

The 11-mile section of the Catskill Mountain Railroad that serves as the current “missing link” between Kingston Plaza and Mount Tremper will be torn up and cast asunder unless we as concerned citizens, mindful of the tracks’ historic and commercial value, act between now and the spring of 2016. Built in the 1870s, the Catskill Mountain Railroad was originally part of a commercial enterprise developed by Samuel Coykendall and Thomas Cornell. These two very perceptive businessmen if the 1870s had the foresight to realize that many thousands of passengers disembarking from Hudson River steamboats might wish to continue their scenic journey into the Catskills aboard a comfortable railroad car. Coykendall reported that in one year alone, 1905, 600,000 passengers rode the trains.


Starting from the Kingston Plaza, there are currently thousands of passengers enjoying themed train rides to a terminus just past the flats of Hurley. It is beyond here that the 11-mile section of the historic tracks still exists. Why shouldn’t these tracks be used as well?

Ulster County Executive Michael Hein seems to be determined in his effort to destroy our heritage. That section of the tracks is historic, as proven by the fact that it is protected by law. This section is the “missing link” to the existing tracks at the village of Mount Tremper, where another very popular excursion train operates. This train ride allows passengers to enjoy a ride, “clear up to Phonicy,” to quote us “old-timers.” Reconditioned, I predict that hundreds of thousands of tourists will flock to Kingston to take a spectacular 35-mile trip through our scenic Catskill Mountains.

It could very well become the foremost tourist attraction in the entire Hudson Valley!

As I see it, Kingston seems to have fallen behind in attracting tourists. Tourists translate into money spent with local merchants. Several towns around us seem to have gotten that message. But these towns have far less heritage to offers, such as the establishment of Wiltwyck as the third Dutch settlement in America or the “rebels” of Wiltwyck risking their lives to establish New York as a state or our heritage of Gen. George Clinton being sworn in as New York’s first governor. When properly presented, heritage attracts tourists; thousands and thousands of them, all willing to spend money. Lots of money!

To me, County Executive Michael Hein doesn’t seem to have a care about our heritage. If he does, he has a strange way of showing it in his persuading 18 county legislators to support him in destroying our heritage just so people can take a hike. He should know as I do that other communities have had the foresight to create both a scenic/historic train ride and a hiking path side by side. It can be done! It’s being done elsewhere. It should and can be done here!

It is worth another effort for the key persons involved — city, county and state as well as railroad management — to agree, to work together and to open up this missing link.

Acting on my own without help from any group or committee, I am gathering signers — 350 in two days, to a petition which I hope may help convince those key people that we want our voices to be heard. Please listen to us, before it’s too late!

William A. Ford, Kingston

The mayor and the city

Everything that happens on a mayor’s watch is his: it breaks, it gets fixed, it just stays put. He owns all of it.

Walking through the city on the Kingston Corridor which takes me through Uptown, Midtown and Rondout and all the “”tweens” or “‘taints,” I like what I see and really, I’ve never seen it this good before. Not nearly. Thank you.

There are 92 comments

  1. CP

    Mr. Ford has it right; I couldn’t have said it better – and Lord knows, I’ve tried. Ms. Hodges, you can have a rail-with-trail option; you don’t need to sacrifice a major historical entity and major tourist attraction (already) to do that. If you really want a rail-only-trail, there is another roadbed going north of Phoenicia that went to the Mountain House. It is still mostly intact and would make a great trail with great vistas as well. But leave the U&D/CMRR tracks where they are and run trains; all will benefit.

  2. Eileen Kennedy

    I stand behind Mr. Ford and his belief that we can have both hiking and rail trails here in Ulster. I believe this County is a wonderful place. With opportunities for all.

  3. VTT

    CMRR has squandered their lease cycle. Good riddance!

    Victimizing the County Executive et al is laughable.

    See you on the trail!

    1. CP


      Mike Hein has squandered most good will toward him. Victimizing the CMRR would be laughable if it wasn’t so ridiculous.

      Please stop licking your chops over this; it’s unbecoming.

      See you on the train!

    2. CP


      Mike Hein has squandered pretty much any good will toward him. Victimizing the CMRR would be laughable if it wasn’t so ridiculous. Living in the present – and looking to the future – the railroad has proven its value, financially and as an attraction to the area.

      Please stop licking your chops over this; it’s unbecoming.

      See you on the train!

  4. Theresa Sullivan

    This is wonderfully stated. As my friend stated from another angle aside from tourism, keep the rails alive for emergency transport of goods, if not people. Why destroy things that aren’t broken? Don’t waste. Coexist. My choice is the rails and I signed a petition at the Kingston Farmer’s Market 9/26. I hope this works out for all.

  5. AnotherTakeOnIt

    Samuel Coykendall and Thomas Cornell never had a railroad named Catskill Mountain Railroad… they had one known as the Ulster and Delaware Railroad. Ed Ford likely wouldn’t have misnamed this business had he written such a letter. Note too that there was a Catskill Mtn. Railroad in the past but it operated on a completely different track system.

    Building the multi-use trail preserves the corridor intact. The track west of Hurley Mtn. Rd. is protected by law only in the sense that there are sections of the corridor with easements, easements that have various stipulations including the right to perpetual use for rail. In the case of the track running through the DEP property the agreement with Ulster County and DEP is designed to insure that in perpetuity rail could be reinstalled there if a viable economic case. In the meantime the agreement and DEP policy is for trail only on those 11.5 miles. Rail banking can preserve the rest of it while the multi-use trail is in place.

    On another note, you can all but forget about using the track structure that is there now. After nearly 30 years under CMRR control, per the rail inspection report there is still less than 7 miles of track in Ulster County that meets the minimal Class 1 standards required to move passengers on the rails. Put another way, the current rail vendor is 18+ miles short of meeting their lease obligations for track rehabilitation and maintenance under the lease that expires in May 2016. What rational person would ever give them another lease?

    Regarding rail with trail, Ed Ford would also likely be able to tell us that much of the U&D corridor was a single track corridor. Witness the berm, benches, and bridges that carry the track between Kingston Plaza and Basin Rd. These can be seen from the seat of your car if you wish to check for yourself. The rail with trail examples that are tossed about are built on multi-track corridors…

    While the Right of Way may have sufficient width for rail and trail it is not possible to build an ASHTO and ADA compliant multi-use trail on that section of corridor without spending many millions of dollars to undertake a massive construction project–engineer’s preliminary estimates put the cost at 4-5 times greater than converting it to trail only.

    The current vendor certainly doesn’t have the means to undertake such a project (which was part of the County Executive’s proposal) and Ulster County would be foolish to fund such a venture. This as it would never recoup the monies in rent, sales taxes, or room taxes resulting from a tourist railroad.

    While Bill Ford spins a nice specious tale it isn’t economically viable and it goes against county policy as set by the Legislature. Even some 10 months after the County Executive suggested keeping 2 miles of rail in Kingston the Legislature has not seen fit to change the policy that calls for trail only east of Boiceville. The county policy also calls for retention of rail operations west of Boiceville–that is where CMRR has operated for about 30 years. It was CMRR’s choice to operate there as was it their choice to not meet the lease terms… It is good that the County Executive holds CMRR accountable to the contract they signed… the Railroad Advisory committee never did it in the past and still doesn’t.

  6. Pete Baker

    First things first; VTT’s comments are always antagonistic and therefore are ignored by most. If he wants to discuss the issues civilly. I will again ask him/her to join the Facebook group Rails/Trails – An open discussion FORUM (Ulster County, NY/The Catskills) https://www.facebook.com/groups/868112613244240/. He/she has avoided in the past because members have to use their real name and are verified.

    I believe that Rails with a trail is doable. The biggest sticking point on both side of the rails is money. The present tenant of the Rails, Catskill Mountain Railroad, had good intention when they agreed to restore a mile of tracks per year of their contract. The cost of materials, necessary equipment and the fact that ALL of the workers are volunteers proved that commitment to be unrealistic. Enter the Trail folks.

    A few trail riders put together a plan to concert the rails to a trail. To there credit they created a well oiled machine. Through private meetings they were ale to convince our Ulster County Executive to join they cause. Part of their argument was the cost involved in improving the rails and adding a trail. If ALL of the stakeholders were included in the initial discussion I believe that it would have been determined that the costs wouldn’t have been inflated as they are now (“4-5 x the cost of a trail only”).

    Working together the rails could be brought up to code. At the same time a parallel trail could be added where possible. The construction equipment needed would already be in place. The addition ballast and materials for a trail could be distributed by rail. Where a parallel trail isn’t possible. The shared equipment would be in place to help create bump outs as required. In sharing ideas and equipment the total cost would be far less than quoted above. Yes, rails and a trail would cost more than either one alone. However, the added benefits would eventually pay off by offering tourists more than just a trail or just a train ride.

    Let’s all work together and make Ulster County and the Catskills a renewed tourist destination. To that means we should put the future of the Ulster & Delaware corridor up to a REFERENDUM. Let all of the people decide, not just a select few.

    1. Nathanael

      It is worth noting that the Catskill Mountain railroad has proven quite capable of restoring one mile of tracks per year *where the only problem is tracks*.

      However, they had to spend many years restoring *bridges* and *drainage systems* and repairing *hurricane damage* to the right of way (from two different hurricanes), and they had not properly figured this into their original estimates. Worse, Mike Hein refused to release the federal FEMA funding for the hurricane repairs, thus deliberately obstructing the railroad and preventing them from making progress.

      They have now done a massive amount of this restoration, all through volunteer labor, including a long bridge near Kingston which was the main obstacle to service out of Kingston for years. They could be running from Kingston to the Glenford Dike next year.

  7. CMRR Supporter

    I love how AnotherTakeOnIt/Gregg always has this privileged information that never has citations or links to where it can be found by normal citizens.

    Typical elitist mansplaining.

    Can a governing body actually explain why it’s doing something in a relatable way in 2015?

  8. Bryan Allyn Blas

    Anothertakeonit sounds like the Republic Candidates who just don’t get it either! He couldn’t be more wrong about the railroad and what Mr. Ford eloquently stated. Believing in what he has read as gospel is his first mistake. The information he has read about the economic viability of the railroad is biased at best and at least, totally wrong and misleading, but he believes it! He is a total nay-sayer without the full facts and actual knowledge of what the conditions are on that right-of-way and that he so vehemently states as the truth.
    A trail is just that. It meanders through the woods! It does NOT have to follow in a straight line as does the railroad. It can go right, It can go left. It can even go up and down!!! His objections are for pure argument alone and very naive. The problem we face is that there are others, just like him, who are just as narrow-minded as he is but, sadly, have the power to get their agenda through!

  9. AnotherTakeOnIt

    CMRR SUPPORTER, all you have to do is go to the county web site and look for information and attend the various meetings of Legislative committees, Complete Streets Advisory Council meetings, and other public meetings to find out what is going on in the area. If you contact Fawn Tantillo at the Legislature’s office I’m sure she can send you a long list of the studies, proposals, resolutions, etc. that the U&D Corridor committee and its consultant will be examining.

    It’s all public information but you have to engage in the process… you too can be informed if you want to be. Be advised though that if pushing for CMRR is your goal currently these documents may cause you to change your mind about them. They have not been good neighbors nor have they been good tenants.

    1. CP

      One definition of wisdom is the ability to see changed circumstances and react accordingly. CMRR has changed from being simply an inspired group of railroaders who had a vision to preserve a historic and scenic corridor. It is now headed by an experienced businessman who has channeled that railroading experience into a series of successful events built on active continuous expansion of the railroad’s operations. These successes in recent years have come despite CMRR having to plow profits into legal funds to defend the railroad’s right to operate, rather than investing them in infrastructure and equipment. Despite this, CMRR has managed to generate hundreds of thousands of much-needed dollars for a local economy that urgently needs it. The future is even brighter – if it is allowed to happen.

      I am sorry to see party politics raising its ugly head in this discussion; in his case, it would seem to me to be a problem regarding individuals with inflexible positions (Mr. Hein in particular). Reality check: not all Democrats are “good,” nor are all Republicans “bad.” (The reverse is also true, of course, and most issues are written in shades of grey, not black and white absolutes. But I digress….) I try to vote for the candidate. In this case, Republican Terry Bernardo is the “good guy” for the CMRR; she sees its future. She has the wisdom to consider its present success and its potential to attract additional tourist money to the area. This “rip up the rails” insanity can be brought to a rapid close by replacing Mr. Hein with Ms. Bernardo in November – or with a willingness on the part of Mr. Hein to acknowledge and act upon the positive changes on the CMRR, dropping his apparent vendetta and showing wisdom and leadership by encouraging and supporting the full operation of the CMRR, with or without a trail.

  10. AnotherTakeOnIt

    Mr. Blas, your personal attack on me does nothing for CMRR’s cause… and the characterizations are so wrong as to be laughable. See my response to CMRR SUPPORTER to find out how I gained my knowledge of the issue.

    Also, I know who you are and have never seen you at a single meeting regarding any of this over the past 3 years… where do you get your information?

  11. dewy crow

    I think that the railroad dream is unrealistic.
    I also think Mr. Baker has a flawed understanding of the trails process in Ulster County. There has been a standing committee appointed by the legislature to implement the county’s non-motorized transportation plan for years now. This committee meets once a month and the railroad company has appeared twice to present their plans.
    Those plans were unrealistic and did not receive any support from the trail committee.
    No back room deals, just hard work by the people who build the trails to build the trails better. When we have connected our rail trails we will have a tourist feature that far surpasses the railroad dream. You need only look as far as Duchess County to see that truth and the benefit to their tourist industry connected trails have delivered.

    As has been mentioned there is lot of information publicly available, but you have to seek it out and read it.

    Saying you want a railroad with no plan and no funding is fiscally irresponsible.

    1. CP

      Dewy Crow wrote: “Saying you want a railroad with no plan and no funding is fiscally irresponsible.” The plan is to use the profits that have had to go to defend CMRR. As I said: “CMRR [has had] to plow profits into legal funds to defend the railroad’s right to operate….”

      The future looks bright, AnotherTake; if allowed to continue and expand as so many people wish it to do, the railroad will no doubt be able to return money to the county in hard currency and in money brought in by its attraction. I can’t quote specific numbers because I’m not part of the financial structure. But I can show you success stories where communities and local governments have embraced their rail attraction including the new Colebrookdale RR in Boyertown, PA, and the established Cumberland Scenic in Cumberland, MD.

      Things HAVE changed, AnotherTake; again, I hope you find the wisdom to acknowledge and support that. From the comments above, interested constituents sure have.

      1. dewy crow

        How can you say what the spending plan was on one hand and claim no financial links to the railroad outfit, on the other ‘CP’?

        My question is where we will get the millions and millions of dollars it takes to put the tracks right, should a viable railroad vendor show legitimate interest in the corridor????

        1. Bill Hutchison

          My question is where will the millions and millions of dollars for the trail come from? We all know the answer to that one! The taxpayers! In addition, there will be NO direct income from the trail and yet you and other trail supporter continue your one-note symphony: The railroad is always inferior; the trail is always the perfect solution which will shower visitors and their dollars on Ulster County. Except it won’t. There are already 50+ miles of trails in the county an the boom times are yet to materialize. The idea that the trail is some sort of cure for the economic problems of Ulster County is no
          thing mote than a bad joke.

          1. AnotherTakeOnIt

            A combination of funding streams go into the trails… public and private. For example, private funds already funded the Camoin study for the trail on the U&D…

            While on this funding topic, where will the 4 to 5 times the cost of the trail come from to pay for rail with trail as proposed by CMRR? Is CMRR going to put up the extra $30-40 million+?

          2. Bill Hutchison

            The cost of a study for a trail is peanuts compared to the cost of building it. If built to AASHTO standards we are talking about what amounts to a highway. Let’s not kid ourselves: taxpayers will be expected to bear the burden of design, construction and maintenance of said trail. That could be upwards of a million dollars a mile, making your misleading statements about the cost of railroad ring hollow.

          3. AnotherTakeOnIt

            You assume that the funders would support such a project…. There is no evidence that they would…. On the private side you would have trouble convincing funding organizations to fund an industrial project that spews pollution into the air and leaches toxic chemicals into the ground…. NYS does not allow for repurposing old railroad ties due to their toxic chemicals yet CMRR thinks it’s OK in today’s scientific world to leach those chemicals into the NYC watershed lands…? There is no public good to be had for paying to build a for profit tourist rail so government funding would be scarce too… The next rail vendor might find some funding as a not for profit.

        2. CP

          To Dewy Crow, I have read CMRR’s business reports and asked a few questions when I was riding the railroad. I don’t remember who I asked.

          From what I understand, some of the “millions and millions” you cite are FEMA funds that were sequestered by the county when they should have been made available to the CMRR. I don’t know any details beyond that.

          1. dewy crow

            CP, your understanding of the FEMA funds is incorrect.
            The funds are not sequestered and sitting waiting for disbursement. That is the current railroad outfit narrative, but it is not fact. Funding for the work was approved by FEMA, but the county did not apply for the funding for a number of reasons. Not the least of which is that the railroad sued the county rather than comply with the lease.

          2. CP

            As I understand it, he railroad sued the county because the county was trying to put it out of business before its lease expired.

            If you were backed into a corner in what you perceived to be an inappropriate situation, wouldn’t you try to take every possible action to get out of it?

            Please take that as a rhetorical question, as I am out of time to rehash the same issues with you and the rest of the trail-at-any-cost crew again and again.

          3. CP

            As I understand it, the railroad sued the county because the county was trying to put it out of business before its lease expired.

            If you were backed into a corner in what you perceived to be an inappropriate situation, wouldn’t you try to take every possible action to get out of it?

            Please take that as a rhetorical question, as I am out of time to rehash the same issues with you and the rest of the trail-at-any-cost crew again and again.

          4. Nathanael

            The order of events matters. Hein refused to release the FEMA funds — thus obstructing the railroad’s ability to attempt to comply with its lease — *quite a long time before* the railroad sued the county.

        3. CP

          Sorry to reply so late….

          The money is outlined in the CMRR’s business plan, available elsewhere on line.

          The “millions of dollars” have come, in part, through volunteer labor (the $800,000 estimate to rebuild Bridge C9 over the Esopus Creek was 90% higher than reality; the actual cost was $80,00 plus countless volunteer hours). More would come from releasing the sequestered FEMA funds held hostage by Mike Hein.

  12. Walter Crump

    Thank you Mr. Ford for your insightful comments! I couldn’t agree with you more. The rail line is an important part of the region’s history but can also play an important part of its future–provided we don’t take the shortsighted and irretrievable step of ripping it out. The people of the region are patient and are willing to wait for, and work for rail with trail without any of the rail line removed. Politicians should not force us to accept anything less because if we do, we will lose so much. A continuous rail line could be better than Napa California’s wine train. It could someday connect to NYC. It could reduce congestion and entertain tourists. We cannot let the politicians destroy this amazing potential.

  13. AnotherTakeOnIt

    CP, while CMRR has changed its leadership they are still liable for the lease that they signed as a for-profit corporation. Based on their 2015-2020 business plan they value the track rehabilitation work at up to $250,000 per mile. At CMRR’s valuation rate for this work, the value not returned to Ulster County due to CMRR’s failure to rehabilitate 18+ miles of track for which they are liable is $4.5 million.

    That is $4.5 million of value that the taxpayers of Ulster County have been shorted by CMRR… Also, if we cannot believe CMRR’s valuation figures for the track work how can we believe anything else in their business plan?

    This neglect has been an on-going problem over the course of the 25 year lease. As such, blaming the recent lawsuit that CMRR filed against the county for CMRR’s woes is a red-herring argument…

    Another thing that changed is that Steam Town’s interest in the area is long gone now as compared to when the county initially allowed CMRR operations. CMRR was the only game in town at the time and by all accounts the county was anxious to have something done with the corridor post the Steam Town possibilities. Jump ahead to 2015 and there is a viable alternative that will provide benefit to the residents of Ulster County east of Boiceville and still allow for a tourist railroad to the west of Boiceville–such a segmented approach has worked just fine in Delaware County on their section of the U&D Corridor.

    Regarding our future County Executive, it would constitute malfeasance if Terry Bernardo were elected and let CMRR off the hook for the value of the track rehabilitation. It would also be totally irresponsible of County Government to give CMRR another lease. CMRR has got to face the fact that they bit off more than they can chew and that they will never be able to deliver on their promises. They have instead chosen to blame others for their woes… Mike Hein is right to protect the county from CMRR and to look toward a Greener future use for the corridor in the form of a Multi-Use trail.

  14. albert schoessow

    what i see here is new people for the rail option or rail w/trail. 10 to be exact. then we have the same two trail heads giving their propaganda. of course, no one listens to VTT any more. translate this positive to the rest of ulster county and i think you can see how the rest of the public feels.

    1. AnotherTakeOnIt

      We’ve been waiting for years for engineering reports and cost estimates from CMRR to support their rail with trail proposal… To date we’ve seen nothing but annotated maps and conceptual drawings from them. Compare this to the engineering studies, preliminary design studies, and the rail and bridge inspection reports coming from the “trail folks.” We’ll be seeing a couple more engineering estimates in coming months for the Hurley Connector and Ashokan Trail multi-use trails… Will CMRR have anything with which to work before their lease is up May 31, 2016?

      There are patterns to be found in these U&D corridor studies and reports in regards to the the condition of the corridor while under CMRR stewardship for 3 decades… It has suffered from neglect and the word “rotten” sums up the condition of the track structure; the word “fouled” sums up the condition of the ballast and drainage; and the word “overgrown” sums up the condition of the vegetation. You may ask how much progress has CMRR made in the year or so since the 2014 corridor report was released? Hint, don’t be surprised when the 2015 inspection reports shows they have lost ground… This isn’t propaganda.

    2. Bill Hutchison

      I think it’s worth noting that the railroad community has consistently been inclusive, calling for both rail and trail. The trail movement has taken the exact opposite, calling for destruction of the railroad for their trail. Read their rhetoric. It’s very revealing.

      1. AnotherTakeOnIt

        This is revisionist history… Those that have been around for years know better… CMRR refused to discuss (that is putting their position politely) the notion of a trail on the corridor until it became clear that their lease renewal was at risk. Now it’s their desperation position with expectations that 4-5 times more money be spent to build a trail with the rail than it would cost to build trail only…

          1. CP

            A look at the trail of letters in the various discussions in the Kingston Times will prove the truth of Mr. Hutchison’s statement.

            And thanks to Dan and the KT for providing this forum.

          2. AnotherTakeOnIt

            The letters from the past couple years left truncate the data… Go back 5-10+ years and the rail folks refused to consider the idea. We could put a long line of people up in front of the county legislature to attest to that and Hugh Reynolds can then report it here in the Kingston Times… CMRR choose their own path to destruction through their decisions and no amount of revisionist history will change that.

          3. CP

            The letters of the last couple of years are based on current thinking in light of the recent successes of the CMRR and its direction of growth and future success. You can be chained to history or acknowledge the positive changes and work with them. It’s one thing to learn from history; its another to be shackled by it.

      2. dewy crow

        @Bill hutchison, the assertion that the railroad community has always been inclusive is false. The railroad would not even think of sharing the corridor until Mike Hein served them some legal reality. Most in the trail community support the segmented rail with trail, time to share the corridor on realistic terms.

        1. TH

          Based on what the trail folks have been posting as of late, I see a reason why the railroad might not have “trusted” the possibility of Sharing the corridor back then. As far as Mike Hein goes, Please, He had no problem with the RR or the lease when he first got in office. His picture was in the paper with Sotile when the RR first started running their Christmas trains in Kingston. He even promoted putting a 3 phase rebuild plan of the RR on the county TIP. Politics is what politics is.

          1. dewy crow

            the last attempt at sharing the corridor was done on a piece of track that was not in service, on a stretch they had no development plans for, delivered through a friendly emmisary, using an infill railbanking system that was easily reverted to track…their answer, the lawyers say it would not be a good idea…now they get to feed the lawyers even more…seems fitting

        2. Bill Hutchison

          Okay, let’s say your premise is true: the railroad did not want to share the right of way years ago. That does not square with today’s reality or the desire of trail advocates for the complete destruction of the railroad, never mind any sharing. Segmented trail = destruction of the railroad.

          1. dewy crow

            well thank you for acknowledging part of the truth…the other part is that you do not need both segments or all of the track to run your tourist railroad…has anyone else noticed that the railroad outfit never runs trains in both locations at the same time? they simply are not big enough now (or then) to do what they dream of doing…time to share by the segmentation that exists now…to ask for more track than you have been able to develop over 30 years is greedy in my opinion

          2. CP

            Dewy Crow wrote: “the other part is that you do not need both segments or all of the track to run your tourist railroad…has anyone else noticed that the railroad outfit never runs trains in both locations at the same time? they simply are not big enough now (or then) to do what they dream of doing…”

            This is NOT TRUE. Assuming the hurricane doesn’t blow everything away for everyone, come out this Saturday – or most other Saturdays since late spring – and ride both parts of the line.

    1. admin

      Thanks – we at Ulster Publishing believe the letters page is an important forum for the discussion of community issues and should be as unhindered as it can be. The publisher often says that his ideal paper would be one of only letters to the editor. 😉 – Dan

  15. AnotherTakeOnIt

    CP: “You can be chained to history or acknowledge the positive changes and work with them. It’s one thing to learn from history; its another to be shackled by it.”

    The county learned well from history that CMRR cannot be counted on to meet lease obligations. This isn’t a school yard game with “do overs,” the lease is a business contract. CMRR sued the county to prevent the county from enforcing the terms of the lease… As I stated previously, by CMRR’s own valuations they owe the taxpayers of Ulster County about $4.5 million of track rehabilitation value. Perhaps if they paid that amount and posted a performance bond they might gain a new lease… then again, probably not as the best predictor of future performance is past performance. Keeping with county policy regarding the use of the corridor, perhaps a rail vendor can be found for the western portion of the corridor that can prove they can meet the terms of a lease (and put up a sizable performance bond)…

    1. Bill Hutchison

      The county **could** have simply waited until the lease expired and saved the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. Instead, it (Mike Hein) engaged in a Quixotic and futile quest to kick the railroad out a only year or two before the lease expired. It appears the railroad and its supporters were not the pushover Hein & Co. expected. So much for the County’s supposed “fiscal responsibility.”

      1. dewy crow

        I respectfully disagree with your legal opinion Hutch. There is an opportunity to recover some of the damages done to the corridor by the inaction of the tenant by starting legal action as soon as you knew about the problem. Had Mr. Hein waited, the county would not be in a position to recover.

        1. Bill Hutchison

          I disagree. The County’s actions were bullheaded and foolish and the taxpayers will foot the bill for that.

          Also, in reference to another message, I am not “acknowledging” any past wrongs by the railroad, real or perceived. I was merely laying out a hypothetical situation, but you knew that and tried to twist things and put words in my mouth when you know better.

      2. AnotherTakeOnIt

        The county’s interest was in protecting itself from CMRR defaulting on the lease, not getting CMRR off the corridor. Towards that end CMRR was served with a notice of claim and given 30 days to respond to that notice. Rather than make any attempt to resolve the issues through work and negotiation the first step CMRR took was to file a lawsuit against the county to stop enforcement of the lease. At that point the county had no choice but to pursue a legal remedy. As such, CMRR is responsible for the cost to taxpayers.

        The cost of CMRR to taxpayers will continue as to date there are still piles of ties, tires and other debris on the corridor and they are still about 18 miles short on the track rehabilitation that the are obligated to complete under the lease. They have made no progress in getting more track to Class 1 standards since last year, none per the track inspection reports.

        1. CP

          No progress being made? Wrong. Even worse than that assertion, someone suggested in this discussion that the CMRR/U&D track west of the current end of service was effectively unusable. This is simply not the case. I have observed work continuing to clear and rebuild the roadbed in the narrowest cut on the line, just east of the “auto body crossing” and west of Kenco. This is also photo-documented on the website nerail.com. Once that work is completed, I’ve been told that the track west of there is already in good enough condition to be capable of supporting some fairly heavy work equipment, as it was part of the last section Conrail worked on prior to leaving the railroad. The same person said it would perhaps need only about 20% of its ties replaced to be returned to service. Thus, Glenford Dike could be reached with far less work than the CMRR’s opponents imply. Watch (and enjoy) this video and then consider what would be lost if the rails were ripped up: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7yl7OUV768. (It is also linked at savetherails.org.)

          1. AnotherTakeOnIt

            The 2015 vs. 2014 rail inspection report will show no progress had been made…

            RE the 20% of ties “need” to be replaced. Assuming it’s the right 20% that might not be far off to meet Class 1 standards. Keep in mind though that 80% of the ties will still be rotten. This also doesn’t address the fouled ballast, fouled drainage system and vegetation issues that plague the corridor as reported by the rail inspectors. The short distance of track that might be added by the auto body shop before the lease ends will still leave them 16-17 miles short of their obligation… and as of the inspection that section did not meet Class 1 standards. CMRR even tried to stop the inspectors from doing their job…

        2. Bill Hutchison

          You are very skillful at twisting things while skirting my point that the county could have merely waited until the lease was up and saved the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. County Executive Hein blew the money on a quixotic and foolish quest to kick the railroad out only a year or two early.

          1. AnotherTakeOnIt

            I’m not skirting anything… letting the lease run out without enforcing it would let CMRR get away with screwing the county and the taxpayers. The notice to cure preserves the ability to collect damages and the jury trial in March, using CMRR’s own estimates, could help determine how much CMRR owes the county for those damages. Keep in mind, CMRR filed the first suit and the county is defending us, the taxpayers, against it.

          2. Bill Hutchison

            Mr. It, the county’s actions are nothing but a shameless attempt to boot the railroad out before its lease ends, all paid for by taxpayers. It’s also an attempt to bleed the railroad with endless legal actions in order to force it out early. Of course, money spent on lawyers won’t be spent on the railroad, even as you whimper about its condition. I’m sure you already know this and that makes your remarks even more disingenuous. Your misleading statements are nothing but an attempt to make this fantasy a reality by repeating the same old trail talking points over and over again ad nauseum.

            I’m sure you’ll want the last word as you always do. Have at it.

          3. AnotherTakeOnIt

            As long as CMRR supporters play the victim card there are those of us who will remind readers that CMRR is merely a victim of their own decisions and actions over the years. Further, blaming the recent legal activity for their prior 28 years of inadequate track maintenance and rehabilitation is nothing but a disingenuous attempt to hoodwink the public–there was more than enough trackage available that was not damaged by the storms to meet the obligation. CMRR had some dedicated volunteers over the years but their leadership failed them, as did they fail the taxpayers of Ulster County who own the corridor. Perhaps the next rail vendor that leases the western part of the corridor will fulfill it’s obligations… In the meantime the county will continue to strive to protect the rights and assets of the county taxpayers.

          4. AnotherTakeOnIt

            I, and I am sure others, have noticed that you have not presented any facts to refute my comments on the status of the track rehabilitation, who filed the lawsuit, why the county has to defend itself, or anything else… Could it be that what has been presented is not misleading at all and that you have no track reports or court documents with which to refute my comments? We’d all like to read those items if they exist.

  16. lucille

    My family lives near the wallkill valley rail trail and all we see on that trail is dog and horse excrements and the noise of atves. i saw on facebook a very interesting rail vehicles that one sits on and pedals. two person vehicle and it rides on the rails. what a good idea for this area to look into for the rail to experience around the reservoir area when it is not used by the train.

    1. AnotherTakeOnIt

      Note that ATV use is forbidden on the WVRT as well as the O&W trail. To date at least two ATV users were fined $300 and $350 each when caught on the northern end of the WVRT. I have not heard the results of a more recent case there beyond their being an arrest and confiscation. It would be helpful to the safety of the trail users, and to the physical condition of the trail, if you’d help stop this ATV use by reporting violators to the police.

      1. LUCILLE


  17. CP

    To the trail-only guys who keep moaning about 30 years in the past, please try living in he present. The past three years have seen an amazing turnaround on the CMRR. Why can’t you acknowledge this and see the good things it portends for the future?

    You pick on the CMRR’s business practices, yet you use them to demand the entire railroad be ripped up. Even assuming CMRR doesn’t maintain control of the U&D corridor, why wouldn’t another operator be interested Or would you have the county set terms that are so onerous that “there’s no choice” but to rip up the rails?

    And a final question: are you the same as you were 30 years ago? Most of us change, evolve, grow. Successful people, successful businesses, all adapt to the changing times or they die. CMRR has changed, grown, adapted and become successful. What will best protect the rights and assets of the county is a functioning growing business that brings much needed revenue to the area, rather than burdening the taxpayers with the high cost of maintaining yet another underused trail.

    As always, I know you’ll go for the last word, so have at it. But the last word isn’t always the right one.

    1. AnotherTakeOnIt

      In response to your questions. As a group the trail supporters back the county policy for segmented use with trail only east of Boiceville and rail to the west where there have been tourist rail operations for about 3 decades. Potential rail vendors are encouraged to submit proposals when the RFPs are issued and they can respond to the current request for expressions of interest.

      RE changes over time, CMRR committed to very favorable lease terms that they have ultimately failed to fulfil. It’s also looking like they lost ground in Class 1 mileage between the 2014 and 2015 inspections. Most importantly, as a corporation the current CMRR leadership is still obligated to the terms of the contract signed by their predecessors. It is clear that they will not meet them by the end of the lease in about 34 weeks.

        1. AnotherTakeOnIt

          To state again, I have noticed that you Mr. Hutchinson have not presented any facts to refute my comments on the status of the track rehabilitation, who filed the lawsuit, why the county has to defend itself, or anything else… Could it be that what I have presented is not misleading at all and that you have no track reports, court documents, etc. with which to refute my comments? If you have something why not present it?

          1. Bill Hutchison

            And here you are again!

            No need to refute you since that has been done again and again. You present nothing new, just the same old talking points we have seen for the past year. I might add that you have been debunked but you continue to spew misinformation and anyone who has had more than a passing interest knows that.

            You keep writing your tomes as if something has changed. Well, nothing has changed and if you think anyone has been swayed by your endless posts, think again.

            RAIL with TRAIL all the way!

          2. Pete Baker

            No names lack credibility! My guess is that most of the “no names” are in reality the trail lobbyists that we all know. What are you hiding from?

          3. CP

            Considering that a lot of the discussion has devolved to something akin to an instant-replay tape, the best thing to do now is for those who favor keeping and running a railroad (with or without a trail) get in touch with your friends who feel the same (or who might if they were aware of the situation) and make sure they show up at the polling booths on Election Day to support candidates who understand the issue and agree with you. One caution: be sure to “do your homework” – party affiliation does not necessarily equal a candidate’s or representative’s position on the issue.

            (Oops – I just gave away my best plan: American democracy!)

          4. AnotherTakeOnIt

            Mr. Baker, by your contention that ‘no names means no credibility’ then you must believe that none of the articles that are blind peer reviewed for publication in tier one academic journals have any validity…

            Sadly some here resort to attacking the individuals when they have no strong evidence or argument to challenge the writings of those individuals–generally that means those making the personal attacks have lost and should lay down their King.

  18. AnotherTakeOnIt

    Mr. Baker, Silence Dogood, Harry Meanwell, Alice Addertongue, Richard Saunders, and Timothy Turnstone would likely have disagreed with you also…

    1. Bill Hutchison

      “Sadly some here resort to attacking the individuals when they have no strong evidence or argument to challenge the writings of those individuals–generally that means those making the personal attacks have lost and should lay down their King.”

      Personal attacks? No sir! I merely pointed out that you:

      a) Write long winded messages.
      b) Have nothing new to offer.
      c) Have been refuted many times in the past.
      d) Have to have the last word.
      e) Distort the reality of the situation.

      None of that is personal. You can’t be THAT thin skinned. Now, if I was to call you a bleepety bleep, THAT would be personal. I guess if you are offended, maybe you should not be here.

      1. AnotherTakeOnIt

        As one example, this whole nonsense over names is a personal attack… as is the characterization that the trail advocates want to destroy the railroad while the position has steadily been segmented use.

        Not once has there been a reference/citation of a rail report that is contrary to the ones performed in 2014 and 2015 that show that 7 miles or less of track has been rehabilitated. There are still piles of tires and ties on the corridor. There is still excess vegetation. CMRR still filed the first lawsuit. Just what is it that has been refuted? Hint, a change in management and “success” last year are not refutations of these lease related issues. Show us something that really refutes these issues… simple request.

        1. CP

          See.the 3 Videos Ryan Lennox posted on YpuTube. The track is passableup to Boiceville’s washout, but some smaller washouts need fixing (fairly easy) and “mowing the lawn” isn’t a big problem. The tracks are clear and passable.

          (Sorry for any typos – autocorrect on the Cel phone has its own ideas, mostly wrong.)l

          1. AnotherTakeOnIt

            Don’t confuse passable via a small inspection/maintenance car with the track meeting the Class 1 standards that are legally necessary to transport passengers. Class 1 is also the required track rehabilitation standard in the lease.

            The rail inspection reports show that less than 7 miles met the standards as of the inspection dates… 25 miles are due by 5/31/16.

          2. CP

            I certainly know the difference between passable and class 1. I also know that the track condition is not as dire as you make it out to be.

          3. AnotherTakeOnIt

            CP, it’s not a question of “dire,” and you don’t need to convince me the track is OK, you need to convince the engineers who inspected the corridor that it is… More specifically, until the rail inspectors find that any given section of track meets the minimal Class 1 standards no passengers can be legally transported on that section of rail. Also, until the sum of those Class 1 sections total 24+ miles, the vendor is out of compliance with the terms of the lease. Those are the hurdles to clear…

        2. CP

          Let me add that the change of management and last year’s (and this year’s) successes – no quotation marks – do indicate a strong change of circumstances and are excellent reasons that rail operations should continue and expand, with or without a trail.

          1. GimmeTRAIL

            OK – how about this deal. The CMRR posts a performance bond and in the new lease, agrees to a set flat rent and 50/50 profit-sharing with the county?

          2. Nathanael

            “OK – how about this deal. The CMRR posts a performance bond and in the new lease, agrees to a set flat rent and 50/50 profit-sharing with the county?”

            With the unrealistic “restore X miles per year” restriction removed (it proved unrealistic because of hurricanes and other natural disasters), frankly, I think the CMRR would be HAPPY to sign that deal.

            Right now there aren’t any bottom-line profits because all the ticket revenues go right back into improving the railroad, but I’m sure the CMRR would be happy to split the profits once the railroad is fully repaired.

    2. Pete Baker

      Pseudonyms used by published authors was/is a common acceptable practice. Those of Ben Franklin, Samuel Clemens and others are also known by their given names.

      When fake names or “Undisclosed sources” are used in the media it’s an entirely different animal. In my opinion, using a fake name implies that you have something to hide.

      Most of the Trail/Rail comments only serve to build a higher wall between each side of the issue. I support rails with a trail. Yes it will cost more but not as much as the inflated figures. You support a trail only. You have your reasons. I’m not sure that you have published all of them. What I would like to see is a public forum of interesting parties, sans the lobbyists, to civilly discuss the pros and cons. If we all sat down in a round table forum I believe that were could come up with a solution that would satisfy the needs (not wants) of all stakeholders. What do you say?

      1. dewy crow

        I used my real name until I was stalked by a railroad supporter.
        Problem is, I stalk back and who has the time?

      2. AnotherTakeOnIt

        Well there you go… I’m a published author! Also, I was advised to not use my name as a security measure. This as a CMRR advocate showed up unannounced on the doorstep of a trail advocate… an intimidating move that made it very personal.

        RE the cost differential. I and pretty much everybody else will take the word of the engineering firm, one that has a lot of experience with trail and Complete Streets projects, over the opinions of the rail advocates.

        It appears I must repeat again that I support the segmented use of the corridor as aligns with county policy, i.e., trail only east of Boiceville with tourist rail operations to the west where they have existed for 3 decades.

        I am sure you and others would like a public forum of ill informed participants to make the decisions… the harsh realities of the physical and economic challenges of building a trail along the rail, as shown in study after study, would then be ignored. In a few months we’ll have more hard numbers on just what it will take to get from Kingston Plaza to Hurley under a rail with trail agenda… and it will still depend on the rail vendor doing what they were contractually obligated to do.

  19. nopolitics

    Evaluating what CMRR supposedly owes the taxpayers due to the “business contract” anywhere in New York State where taxes are used to create government jobs which in turn, as this county executive has demonsrated so clearly, often either returns nothing of value to the citizens or acts of negative value thereto(such as the selling of Golden Hill and the daily disregard for how citizens are served by the couny whilst the salaries in the county execuive’s office remain ludiscrously beyond healthy). Making such comparisons is simply LUDICROUS.
    It seems that anytime anyone tries to make the least bit of improvement in his county for tourism, for quality of life for its residents, whatever along those lines, there comes out of the woodwork opposition so fierce one can almost smell the passion in the air. Ulster Couny is already one of the most backwards places in the state and nation in terms of access to decent healthcare across all specialities, access to decent job opportunities apart from government and education, and access to anything approaching a fair political and/or legal process on ANYTHING.
    Mr. Ford, in a word, “MAGNIFICENT.” It takes someone who’s been around for awhile to call out the stupidity of the current political windsails, as this boat is being mostly driven by the popular, perma-smile- yet-uncaring Michael P. Hein, county executive of Dingbatland who doesn’t go beyond dingbat values in his quest to be elected for life. Ford indeed has a better idea!!

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