Mary Parisen, co-founder and now president of Civics United for Railroad Environmental Solutions (CURES), and a number of local civic leaders met with Congresswoman Grace Meng near the Fresh Pond Rail Yard last week.
They discussed the ways train coupling and pollution from the engines have effected the neighborhood.
“It sounds like an earthquake,” Parisen said, explaining that the train activity has become significantly more intense since she first moved to the third house from the corner of 69th and Otto Road in 1986. “How do you become a productive citizen when you can’t sleep at night?”
Parisen co-founded CURES with Mary Arnold in 2009 to find a solution to the growing number of trains on the tracks and gain the attention of elected officials.
One positive development is the state was awarded $3 million to replace one of the old “Tier 0” engines, with a state-of-the-art “Tier 3” locomotive, which would address some of the noise and pollution issues.
While there are currently 10 outdated Tier 0 locomotives running on the tracks through Glendale, Parisen is seeking a plan to change out one engine every year until they are all upgraded.
In addition to addressing pollution from the engines, CURES has also been advocating for regulations to address the containerization of construction debris and municipal waste that is transported along the tracks.
While Parisen said she accepts the location wasn’t going to be a serene oasis, she said her issues with the trains have only gotten worse over the years.
Gary Giordano, district manager of Community Board 5, is hopeful the visit with Meng will get these upgrades moving faster.
“The first thing that needs to be done is reduce the pollution from these very old diesel engines,” Giordano said. “Possibly the congresswoman can help push the MTA and LIRR to get these locomotive engines upgraded.”
In addition to the sound and pollution from the engines, Giordano is also looking for a solution to the containment of materials transported along through the residential neighborhoods.
“There is that issue of the smell of wet demolition debris and dust that flies from those unsealed rail cars,” Giordano explained. “You have the pollution from these locomotives right near residential homes.”
Meng agreed that while issues still persist, she plans to work with CURES and the community to reach a solution.
"I thank CURES and members of Community Board 5 for their visit to the Fresh Pond Rail Yard and for taking time to discuss the problems they are experiencing with trains that run through the community,” Meng said. “Many ongoing concerns persist, including noise, air pollution and debris flying from freight cars. I am currently looking carefully at the community’s ideas and solutions."