Featured Letter: Help support the miniature railroad to the finish line

To the editor:

In light of the Jan. 23 Suffolk Times article on our miniature railroad, the members of the Greenport Rotary would like to reassure the public that we are working with the Village of Greenport to address the latest version of concerns and objections received from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Throughout the nearly three-year process of trying to secure permits to proceed with the Greenport Express in a small section of Moore’s Woods, plans have been submitted and resubmitted, revised each time to accommodate any issues raised by the DEC. The village and the club thought all had been satisfied.

On Jan. 8 of this year, the village received a Notice of Incomplete Application from the DEC, accompanied by six letters, all written in October of 2018 (!) from a group of people objecting to our project.

These letter-writers called our train project “dumb” and “frivilous” (their spelling, not mine). They object to the track’s proximity to a couple of wetlands species. To be fair, there are indeed wetlands in the area, but they have been flagged and mapped and our plans have been revised to avoid or minimize any impact on a certain type of orchid (or, as one letter-writer called it, an “orchard”).

You, the good people of Greenport, the North Fork and beyond, have been so generous in supporting our Express fundraisers, physically assisting with the engine, offering eventual in-kind services and donating over $160,000! We are eternally grateful to you and pledge to persevere in our efforts to bring Frank Field’s miniature railroad back to Greenport.

If, unlike the letter-writers, you don’t think the train is dumb or frivolous, there is one way you can help: Our club is circulating a simple petition in support of the Greenport Express and the “Joe Cherry Choo Choo.” Look for copies of the petition around town or call any Greenport Rotarian; we’ll gladly bring one to you for your signature. With enough support we may convey to the DEC that the railroad, in their words, “satisfied a compelling social need.”

Some Rotary Clubs in our Long Island district call us “The Little Club That Could.” The only reason we can is because of your support. Let’s get the Joe Cherry Choo Choo back on track! Thank you!