Legislation Restricting Idling Pending on State Level
By Conor Greene
Glendale residents are getting some support from elected officials in their fight for changes to the way rail companies conduct business in residential neighborhoods, as legislation is being considered on the state level to help maintain the local quality of life.
Assemblyman Michael Miller (D-Woodhaven) is working on having legislation written to address the residents’ concerns, which came to light last year through the efforts of Glendale neighbors Mary Parisen and Mary Arnold. According to a spokesman for Miller, there are two main points being considered for the legislation: a ten minute maximum idling time and mandating the use of cleaner fuels.
A third approach – banning the idling of locomotives within a certain distance of homes – also hasn’t been taken of the table, according to the assemblyman’s office. The bill, which would be based in part on similar legislation in Long Island, will be sponsored by Senator Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) in the Senate.
"I understand people want to sleep at night and I understand that railroads need to run their business," said Miller. "We need to learn to co-exist. Working together we can find a way to defend our quality of life without disrupting business...This legislation won't solve every issue over night, but it is the first step toward a bigger solution."
News of the impending legislation came from Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills), who updated residents at last week’s Community Board 5 meeting. “This is a tough issue – I’ll be real candid with you,” said Hevesi, adding that there tends to be a lot of finger pointing between agencies at different levels of government. “There is a gap in the regulations” which the new legislation would work to address. The good news, he said, is the tracks are owned by the MTA, which is at least “somewhat responsive to the state,” especially compared with other companies and agencies.
“What’s happening now is just inappropriate and shouldn’t be happening,” concluded Hevesi, promising to report back to the residents and board in several months.
Addabbo later described visiting one of the affected residents at 5 a.m. on a recent day to hear first hand the sounds coming from the rail yard, which is located along Otto Avenue. “It’s important for me to hear first hand the nuisance these residents are dealing with on a regular basis,” he said.
During the public portion of CB 5’s meeting, several residents spoke of the impact the rail yard has on their quality of life. Anthony Pedalino of 69th Place said the fumes and noise have become “unbearable” especially in the morning. He added that locomotives have idled outside his house on recent mornings from 5:15 to 5:45 and then again from 6:50 to 8:00. “We really need to keep the pressure on,” he said.
Parisen, who along with Arnold founded the group Civics United for Railroad Environmental Solutions (CURES), reported that a series of five meetings dealing with specific rail-related issues and involving elected officials is planned. The first is scheduled for January 28 in Borough Hall and will focus on the transfer and transport of solid waste.