Pols call for MTA to restore winter weekend train service

02/19/2011 12:00 PM |

JULIE LANE PHOTO | Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter (left), Greenport Mayor David Nyce, County Legislator Ed Romaine and Southold Supervisor Scott Russell are calling for the MTA to restore winter weekend train service to the North Fork.

County Legislator Ed Romaine came to the Greenport Long Island Rail Road station with other local elected officials Friday afternoon to call for restoration and expansion of weekend Long Island Rail Road service to the North Fork.

“We are the stepchild of the Long Island Rail Road,” Mr. Romaine said. With the Winterfest: Jazz on the Vine concerts taking place on weekends at area wineries, the railroad should be poised to offer weekend service, he said.

Facing a yawning budget deficit, the MTA last year imposed a payroll tax on businesses and governments within its service area. The MTA also curtailed train service to the East End, a move Southold Supervisor Scott Russell described as “taxation without transportation.”

At a time when there’s so much emphasis on green environmental initiatives, it doesn’t make sense to force tourists to use their own vehicles rather than the railroad to visit the East End, Mr. Romaine said.

Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter said the solution is establishing an East End light rail service. That would cost an estimated $48 million. The East End towns pay a combined $60 million annually in payroll taxes to the MTA.

“The business model for the railroad doesn’t work,” Mr. Walter said. “The amount of money we send up west is staggering. Let me keep the payroll and property tax and cut service at Yaphank” and provide service east through light rail trains.

That message resonates with North Fork Environmental Council president Bill Toedter, who called for a comprehensive East End transportation plan.

North Fork Promotion Council managing director Andrea Parks said that her organization’s mission to improve tourism is thwarted by a lack of public transportation.

Mr. Romaine said he will continue to speak out until service is enhanced by the Long Island Rail Road or the money going to the MTA is instead put to use operating an East End light rail service.

“We’re giving them our money; they’re supposed to give us service and they’ve failed,” he said.

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86 Comment

  • Having an alternative to driving everywhere on the North Fork is critical to our region’s livability. Kudos to these elected officials for seeking viable alternatives.

  • Islandshores——– I’d like to see those who are in favor of this commercial development start a petition drive like the anti-development civic associations are doing. Most of the people complaining about change to Wading River are NOT old people. In fact, most are probably new-comers to the area and now that they are here, they want to shut the proverbial door on any other property owner, even if it means taking away their property rights. The anti-business environmentalists need a cause and purpose to remain viable but please, not in my backyard.
    Islandshores, if you start a petition drive in favor of these developments, and speak at the Riverhead town board meetings, I’ll back you up.

  • You need to think about moving. You’re in the minority of people who want to ruin whats left of rural Long Island, and are an exception to the fact that residents moved to Wading River for the peace and quiet.

  • I’ll back you up too, Islandshores. The NIMBY’s are preventing progress while accepting the fact that Wading River could be so much better than it is. Those areas are eyesores and I, a Wading River resident with as much of a say as anyone else who lives here, am looking forward to having an attraction developed there.

  • If you want peace and quiet, go to the beach or sit in your backyard. You don’t expect peace and quiet along 25A, do you?

  • GUEST——- who invited you to this hamlet of Wading River anyway? Did you think that once you moved here that you can stop others from moving here too? We can argue the point as to whether or not there should be development at Wading River and get aggravated by doing so, but if someone disagrees with your opinion, you have absolutely no right to suggest that they move. Let’s keep the comments civil, please.
    Wading River will eventually have more stores, regardless of our opinions. Otherwise, show us the money to buy what you don’t developed. Once this land is taken off of the tax roles, we pay more in taxes—- regardless of what you’ve been told

  • There is the historical area by the Pizza Place which has no room for development, it’s safe. That area should not be bothered by any commercial development along 25A. You also have areas like the beach and the salt marsh/kempf preserve if you are into the environment. What bothers me most is that people are seemingly defending empty fields where no one lives. If it was a forest, perhaps you’d have a point, but as it stands, you are defending barren fields.

    Meanwhile you had no problem putting a gigantic golf course in the heart of the town for the rich to use as their playground. That could have been a preserve, where were you guys then, huh?

    Now I can support the concept that the great house clubhouse is not fair in asking for a catering hall because it is too close to residents – that’s going to cause some people trouble with noise and such – but I don’t see anyone’s doorstep next to CVS, so I don’t really see what the problem is there. There are certain conveniences missing in this town that people under the age of 70 tend to want – a reliable gas station, a 24/7 convenience store, more restaurants (of the sitdown and much needed fast food variety).

    The town lacks convenience, plain and simple. I am enviromentally concerned and intelligent as anyone else – but I see no reason to take up an unreasonable crusade to pretend the 25A corridor must remain ‘rural’ in Wading River.

    This is not the north fork. We live 20 minutes west of Riverhead. This is no longer a rural area but a suburban one with a significant population. Such a population requires conveniences and stores associated with daily life. I see no intention of building a new smith haven mall in wading river, so I think some people are really exaggerrating the threat.

    It’s about time someone spoke up after article after article of NIMBY’s complaining.

  • And another thing – to heck with the “no store can remain open past midnight” junk – stop making wading river an unsafe dark ghost town.

  • I am in support of the moratorium as it is a fair and sensible option to further study the issue – but since others have suggested this perhaps a town meeting on this specific subject is warranted so the opposing viewpoint can be heard as well. I have never been to a town meeting but would not mind putting two cents in over this issue.