Skip to main content

No more silence from Amtrak

April 20, 2018 02:22 pm

If you think Amtrak is confusing and confounding about its proposal to build fences along its rail line on the eastern shore of the Hudson River, you are not alone.

“Amtrak’s plans are kind of vague,” Germantown Town Supervisor Robert Beaury said Tuesday. “We don’t know the details about the plans.”

We know one of Amtrak’s aims is to protect the safety of its trains, property and passengers — many of whom are from Greene and Columbia counties — traveling north to Albany or south to New York City.

What may be cut-and-dried for Amtrak, though, is deeply troubling to five Columbia County town supervisors, including Beaury, who sent a letter in March to the state Department of State requesting more information about the project.

Following up on this action, the Germantown Waterfront Advisory Committee, an independent panel appointed by town officials, issued a “white paper” — a government report containing information or proposals on an issue — to the state Department of State, listing potential adverse effects that installation of fences along Amtrak rails on the Hudson River shoreline would have on the people who live, work and visit there.

Translating word into deed, the Advisory Committee organized a Fight the Fences rally from noon to 2 p.m. Sunday at Ernest R. Lasher Memorial Park to push Amtrak to come to the table and release more details about its plan.

The fence could have the unintended effect of cutting off five thriving river communities — three in Columbia County and two in Dutchess County — from their own waterfronts, the supervisors contend.

Fence gates could prevent first responders from gaining access to the shoreline between Lasher and Cheviot parks.

A CSX right-of-way to property earmarked for the Hudson River Greenway Water Trail could be excluded.

No provisions are written into Amtrak’s plan to allow residents with riparian rights on the river side of the tracks access to their property, according to the supervisors.

Reduced access to the shoreline will increase pressure on Cheviot and Lasher parks and their limited parking areas, the supervisors say.

Amtrak has to face the public about this issue because there is more at stake than simply safety and keeping trespassers at bay. It’s just as important to preserve the culture of the riverfront. Amtrak had better be prepared to answer a lot of questions.