The Civics United for Railroad Environmental Solutions (CURES) held a meeting on Thurs., Sept. 27 at St. Pancras’ Pfeiffer Hall that sparked debate regarding possible solutions for trains running from Long Island through Fresh Pond Yard.
CURES co-chair Mary Parisen said that many of the cars coming from Long Island carry demolition debris with thin netting and harmful air pollutants. Some of the rail cars also idle near people's homes in Middle Village, posing a potential health threat to residents in the area.
With approximately 15 attendants, residents questioned why more people had not come to the meeting. Some felt that a protest might be the first step in the right direction. However, Robert Holden, the Juniper Park Civic Association president, felt that taking legal action could provide better results.
Holden said a lawsuit under the Clean Air Act could bring a temporary solution. “We don't know what our rights are now because we haven't tested it,” Holden said, who added that noise and pollution from the rail cars was dangerous to local residents.
Yet, members questioned if current circumstances could provide relief under any type of legal action. Parisen stressed that because the State of New York owns the locomotives, there needed to be changes involved with federal law.
“We need to consider a community benefits agreement,” Sleeper said, who felt that using funds from the Port Authority to put up sound barriers and other protective measures where rail cars pass could provide relief.
With the railway system in limbo, one thing was clear. “This is a very complicated issue,” Parisen said.