Monday, March 26, 2018

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Molinaro not happy about Amtrak fence plan

POUGHKEEPSIE – Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro is not pleased with the way Amtrak filed plans to install a fence along railroad tracks adjacent to the Hudson River.

Amtrak filed a federal consistency assessment form with the New York State Department of State Coastal Management Program in January saying the fence and gates on the railroad right-of-way are intended “to keep pedestrians and vehicles out of harm’s way and to be consistent with the State’s Coastal Management Policies to the maximum extent practical,” according to Claudia Taccetta, Amtrak lead environmental specialist.

In a recent letter to the state Department of State, Molinaro said he has “considerable concern” about the proposed fence installation. “Since the passage of the Clean Water Act and the advent of the environmental movement born in the valley, the Hudson River has made a tremendous comeback and riverfront communities that once turned their backs on this polluted waterway, now look to the renewed river with waterfront plans and increased access opportunities driving private and public investments,” he wrote.

The county executive noted that the Town of Rhinebeck and Town and Village of Red Hook have approved local waterfront redevelopment plans, yet Amtrak’s application indicates the project would not occur in an area covered by such a plan. As a result, he has asked the Department of State to clarify that response.

Molinaro said while he understands the safety intent and purpose of the project, “there has not been adequate time or information given to the communities to evaluate [how] the proposed locations will affect access to the river.”

In his correspondence with the state, Molinaro said it was “unfortunate” that the county was not directly notified of the process earlier, “where the local municipalities and we might have been able to engage in discussions with Amtrak on identifying areas of concern and where appropriate access restrictions and methods would be prudent.”

He requested a meeting of officials from Dutchess County and the three municipalities with staff from Amtrak and the Department of State “to discuss the concerns and proposed locations of fences and gates.”


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