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Railroad noise, trash exasperate Glendale

The trash trains may not sit for hours next to Christ the King High School anymore, but other Glendale residents are still angry with the way the New York and Atlantic Railway is handling its rolling stock.

The freight railroad has taken to switching rail cars at a spur in a residential neighborhood between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m., neighbors said.

“You cannot sit outside on a Saturday most weekends,” said neighbor Anthony Patolino, who lives on 69th Place near Juniper Boulevard South. “It’s just got to the point where I hate to be home.”

Neighbor Mary Arnold also complained that the railroad is not forced to maintain its property.

“We need the participation of these owners who use this corridor,” she said, complaining of debris left behind. “It’s worth your life to walk to the M train.”

Community Board 5 is putting pressure on the railroad to move its switching location further south.

“We need all the help we can get,” CB 5 District Manager Gary Giordano said of the railroad, noting its response to a letter he sent asking it if they could find a less residential location to switch the rail cars included “everything but whether or not they could accommodate us.”

But Pasquale Cuomo, a spokesman for the New York and Atlantic, said the freight operations that take place at that spot are a direct reaction to citizens’ complaints about the way garbage containers were handled.

Last summer the railroad came under fire when train cars containing garbage meant to be picked up by a locomotive from the larger railroad CSX were left to sit for hours near Christ the King.

The school eventually sued the railroad with help from former City Councilman Tom Ognibene, negotiating with the railroad to change its pickup schedules to prevent the cars from sitting so long. A new spot further away from the school was also selected for the interchange.

To speed the pickup schedule, Cuomo said, the New York and Atlantic installed an air compressor at the new location to allow the freight cars to be secured by air brakes instead of hand brakes. Keeping the air brakes active means it takes between 10 and 15 minutes instead of more than an hour for a CSX locomotive to hook up to the train and pull it away, Cuomo said.

But he added that the train noise should come as no surprise to neighbors.

“The people who live alongside a railroad, particularly a freight railroad, should have realized when they purchased their homes that they were living next to a railroad, and that railroads have always been 24/7 operations.”

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at jewalsh@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

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