Shandaken board passes resolution in support of CMRR

By Jay Braman Jr.
Admitting that the effort has had a chilling affect on his relationship with Ulster County Executive Mike Hein, Shandaken Supervisor Rob Stanley got just enough votes Monday to pass a memorializing resolution that calls for an end to the legal battle between the county and the Catskill Mountain Railroad (CMRR).
In a 3-2 vote, with board members Faye Storms and Tim Malloy opposing, Stanley was joined by councilman Alfie Higley and Vince Bernstein in passing the measure called “Resolution concerning development and use of the Ulster County and Delaware Railroad right of way.”
The resolution had been reworded from its original form earlier this month. Where the original resolution called for the county to stop its legal efforts to evict the CMRR from the tracks and agree to create a rail with trail for the entire length of the rail line from Kingston all the way to Highmount, the resolution considered Monday contained less specific language.
It requests that “ all involved parties immediately cease their legal efforts and sincerely enter into discussions to work out a solution agreeable for all parties involved… and that Ulster County representatives work to ensure continuing operations of current tourism railroad activities, especially from Phoenicia to Boiceville; and that the Town of Shandaken additionally requests that Ulster County representatives work cooperatively with the Delaware & Ulster Rail Road (DURR) to extend its operations to Big Indian.”
Voting against, Storms said she was uncomfortable supporting a measure that took sides in an issue in litigation and felt that the town board needed more information on the matter before taking a position.
Malloy agreed saying, “I don’t even know why this resolution is in front of us.”
Stanley, who championed the resolution, said that it has nothing to do with what might happen on the rail line in Kingston or the Town of Hurley or the Town of Olive but only pertains to what happens on that line in Shandaken. Reading quotes from what he said was an older press release from County Executive Mike Hein, Stanley said the resolution only echoes Hein’s points.
Regardless, Stanley also added that his recent effort to push through the resolution has strained his relationship with Hein but he was sure they will be able to work together like they have in the past.
The vote followed an hour and-a-half-long public comment period during which both rail supporters and trail supporters spoke.
Those in support of the resolution complained that the rail-trail plan being advanced by the county was being forced upon the residents and that the county’s plan, while allowing the CMRR to continue to operate a train on the six miles of track it now uses, will ultimately kill the CMRR because it does not allow for expansion.
Some speaking against the resolution did so with claims that the CMRR has had 30 years to expand but has failed, so it’s time to do something else with the public asset that is the rail line.
Others however, like Chichester resident Brian Powers, disagreed with the resolution because they felt the town had no business taking a position.
“You’re adopting a private agenda as public policy,” he said.