August 8, 2015

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Gallo slams Noble & Noble over rail corridor hearing

Gallo: "... political grandstanding ..."

KINGSTON – Mayor Shayne Gallo criticized Kingston Common Council President James Noble on Friday, accusing him of “political grandstanding.” On Wednesday, Noble had announced a public hearing slated for August 24, to explore both sides of the rail trail controversy.

James Noble’s nephew, Steven Noble, is running against Gallo in the Democratic mayoral primary on September 10, having won the party’s nomination.

"This issue is extremely important for the City of Kingston,” said James Noble.  “We have heard conflicting opinions using conflicting facts from various elected and non-elected officials. Because of the impact on Kingston, I believe it is important to bring the two sides together in the same room to answer questions and listen to the opinions of the people of our City."

Representatives of the Catskill Mountain Railroad as well as the proponents of the rail trail have been invited to participate as panelists. The chairman of the Ulster County Legislature, John Parete, has agreed to join council President Noble at the public hearing. Both Noble and Parete will choose up to two other elected officials from the bodies they chair to join as facilitators.

Catskill Mountain Railroad, an antique tourist steam locomotive currently operating in the city, faces loss of lease and rail yard facilities to landlord Ulster County, in favor of a hiking and biking trail to Ashokan.

A two-mile compromise was established last year, allowing CMRR to continue operating within city limits, ending at Hurley, along the old Ulster & Delaware line. The remainder of operations would be limited to track west of Ashokan reservoir.

The plan represented a consensus of the city council, the Ulster County legislature, and various other private groups including Catskill Mountainkeeper. CMRR wishes to keep its entire line, however.

“The train has already left the station,” Gallo countered. “The project is underway; the partnership with the county has been very successful.”

The mayor said a request for another study by Steven Noble “is misplaced, lacks transparency, reeks of election year grandstanding, and literally circumvents the city’s legislative branch of government, which deliberated this for two years now.”

Steven Noble responded that he was not involved with planning his uncle’s forum, but supports public discussion in general. His official position favors both rails with trails.

“If [Gallo] wants to criticize my campaign’s platform off the clock, he’s more than welcome, but on the clock, he’s just using city resources to campaign,” Steve Noble said.  “Unfortunately the mayor shoots from the hip, and believes everything is political.”


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