There are now only a little over four months left before the expiration of the Catskill Mountain Railroad’s 30-year lease on the Ulster & Delaware corridor. With President Ernie Hunt’s recent statement that CMRR “absolutely” intends to submit a proposal for future tourist train operations, it is incumbent on the organization to perform what any tenant in any lease situation would be expected — to exit the premises having moved its belongings out, leaving the leased facility “broom clean,” in rental parlance. There is currently scant evidence that the CMRR has the plans, capability or even intention to do so.
For starters, the new county policy clearly calls for trail only from Midtown Kingston to the Kingston Plaza, meaning the CMRR will need to clean up and vacate its Cornell Street yard, thus relocating significant rolling stock as well as dealing with the disposal of years of industrial-level waste and debris. That alone is a daunting task. The removal of just one of the rusty cars that have haunted the tracks near Route 209 took months to complete and CMRR is working with a small volunteer work force. In addition to Cornell Street, there are rusty old cars extant in the Hurley Flats section, an old railroad crane, other cars and an abandoned shed in Shokan, and piles of tires and stacks of old creosote ties strewn at different places all along the corridor. A professional organization would have a detailed, decommission timeline for the cleanup and exit process over the few remaining months, but the CMRR has presented no such plan.
Many would argue whether the CMRR should be considered a valid entity to even bid for new operations given its past grievous shortfalls of lease obligations — including, according to recent court rulings, a glaring failure to rehabilitate track; the lack of maintenance of brush, paper and trash that has led, in places, to enormous deterioration of the asset; and “faulty calculations of rent due” in its accounting practices. In a strictly commercial enterprise, a landlord would run screaming away from further involvement with a tenant exhibiting a history of any such actions. If the CMRR is to have hope of future operations on county property it is imperative that it acts now to take the needed steps to exit the current lease in a professional manner, leaving the corridor open and clear for a fair, transparent and competitive bidding process in which it might be one competing entity.
William Sheldon, Kingston
The law of love
At the core of our national and global malaise is the distraction of the pursuit of a UDOPEAN society: the belief of a human-centered creation devoid of Divine intervention. We are suffering not from “mental disabilities”; rather it is the spiritual disability which removes from our discourse and reflections the simple truth that the individual and society cannot function without a centering in the Law of Love: Love of our Creator, love of our neighbor, love of our self.
Paul Jankiewicz, Ph.D., Ulster Park