Judge blocks railroad eviction from Ulster tracks
By Jay Braman Jr.
State Supreme Court Justice Richard Mott has issued an injunction against an attempt by Ulster County Government to evict the Catskill Mountain Railroad (CMRR) from the tracks of the Ulster/Delaware railway between Kingston and Highmount.
The decision marks the latest development in what has become a battle between CMRR and Ulster County Executive Mike Hein, who has been trying to rid the tracks of the trains in order to make room for a rail trail.
“The Catskill Mountain Railroad is pleased with the Yellowstone injunction issued by Judge Mott on Wednesday, November 6, that prevents the county executive from terminating our lease based on their June 12, 2013 Notice to Cure,” said CMRR spokesman Harry Jameson on Monday. “We look forward to moving from the courtroom back to the meeting room, sitting down with the county executive and working out a long-term plan for rail-with-trail for the entire Ulster and Delaware Railroad Corridor.”
A Yellowstone injunction is a New York Supreme Court proceeding initiated by the tenant when the landlord seeks to terminate the lease because of a claimed default by the tenant.
In the notice to cure, Hein said the railroad failed to rehabilitate a minimum of one mile of track per lease year; perform all necessary maintenance to the tracks and rights-of-way; keep full, proper books and records and allow the county to review those books and maintain proper insurance. CMRR disagreed.
In his decision, Judge Mott wrote that the CMRR “has sufficiently demonstrated its willingness and ability to cure any defaults by asserting that it has access to a vast amount of skilled labor which will allow it to correct any defaults that may exist with grant money and FEMA funds. Under the circumstances, the railroad has its requisite burden for the issuance of a Yellowstone injunction.”
Mott also required CMRR to post a $75,000 surety bond to guarantee that it will meet track- repair obligations.
Almost immediately following the decision, CMRR put a billboard up on Route 28 as part of a public relations campaign designed to get Hein to discuss plans for a rails-with-trails concept for the rail way.
The sign reads, “Build The Trail But Save The Rails” and directs viewers to the website www.savetherails.org.