“It's getting worse on a daily basis,” Pealino said, who added that with the trains came smoke and screeching sounds from the halting rail cars. “Sometimes the cars are even left overnight and three schools are in the area.”
Pealino was one of many community members who traveled to a meeting of the Suffolk County Legislature on Thursday, Sept. 13, to voice their opposition to the sale of more than 230 acres of public land for the expansion of the Brookhaven Rail Terminal, which sends train traffic to Queens.
Despite the opposition, the legislature voted 16-2 to approve the sale of the property.
An expansion of the terminal could cause various problems for residents in Queens, including more rail traffic and potentially hazardous health problems.
Alex Maureau, a representative of State Sen. Joseph Addabbo, stressed the senator's opposition to the possible expansion. He stressed that the rail yard in central Queens has only 10 tracks on 15 acres of land and could not handle more trail traffic.
“If the proposal were to go through for the expansion of the waste transfer, you would be jeopardizing the health and the quality of life of many residents along the rail lines throughout Long Island,” he testified before the legislature.
A big concern with the expansion is the transport of garbage through Queens neighborhoods. Current netting used to cover the rail cars is very thin, causing construction and demolition debris, gravel, sand and other materials that are transported to become dislodged.
“What residents are experiencing now can only be described as intolerable,” Maureau said, adding that current rail operations in the area are six days a week with pollution and loud noise from idling rail cars. “Approving this land sale would mean that these conditions will ultimately worsen, exponentially, and become even more intolerable.”
Elizabeth Crowley chief of staff Lydon Sleeper also testified.
“From a government perspective, I can't stress how much of a mistake this is,” Sleeper said, explaining that only the federal government and interstate commerce can regulate the times and areas that the rail cars will go. “This cannot be regulated by the state of New York and you're re-deciding your right for community without some type of community benefits. I strongly urge you to vote or table this until you better understand the consequences.”
A member of the Yaphank Civic Association in Suffolk County said a member of the Brookhaven Railway Terminal had come to a civic meeting several years ago to say that because the expansion was a federal project, the state could have no involvement.
“The railroads set the rules and go where ever they want,” said Ed Cataldo, a resident of Middle Village. “That has got to change. The protection of some at the expense of others is just plain immoral.”
A radio ad supporting the expansion of 230 acres of land to the Brookhaven Rail Terminal, saying that the freight rail could bring a “green revolution” to Long Island.