Bergen Record: Sketchy Meeting to Discuss the Battle of Teaneck v. Railroad

The story in today's Record raises a number of questions in my mind.

Why hold a meeting that could be construed as "illegal" to discuss the Teaneck v. CSX Railroad struggle? Why not have a formal meeting? Why not have RR representatives there? Is this a media stunt?

Why wait for years to pursue an aggressive response on this issue? Bogota succeeded against the RR years ago.

Poor scheduling by CSX should not result in the pollution of Teaneck by idling trains!

Has someone been paid off by the RR? This is a potential scandal.
Teaneck outlines steps to restrict idling trains

TEANECK -- The township will renew efforts to force a railroad to reduce the number of freight trains that idle inside its borders, officials said Thursday.

During a meeting at the office of state Sen. Loretta Weinberg, D-Teaneck, which included a handful of residents, officials discussed a number of possible steps to curb the idling of CSX Corp. locomotives, including:

# Giving out tickets to train operators, a strategy that worked for Bogota a decade ago.

# Holding Assembly and Senate hearings.

# Reintroducing a bill originally sponsored by Assemblyman Gordon Johnson, D-Englewood, that would raise taxes on the railroad.

# Installing surveillance cameras.

# Pressing the township's case with the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority.

Still, the options available to local officials are limited, given the railroad's protection under federal regulations.

For years, the idling locomotives have been a thorn in the sides of nearby residents, who have complained of the noise and fumes emanating from the diesel engines that can run for hours, even overnight.

"There are so many negative impacts on our community because of CSX," said resident Cindy Balsam.

Mayor Elie Katz, meanwhile, has focused on the potential for terrorist attacks on idling trains only a few miles from New York City.

CSX has said the idling is necessary as trains wait for space at their destinations or change crews.

Teaneck has proved to be an ideal spot for idling locomotives – the township's miles of track include no street crossings, allowing the trains to stop without affecting vehicular traffic.

Officials have tangled with CSX before. In 2005, after a similar meeting, Weinberg requested an Assembly Transportation Committee hearing on the idling trains.

As a result, CSX spokesman William Goetz promised that the company would install measures to reduce the noise and fumes, such as turning off engines that had run for more than two hours during warm weather.

But Katz, whose office is near the tracks, said nothing has changed.

The meeting included Weinberg, Johnson, Katz and council members Elnatan Rudolph, Monica Honis and Jacqueline Kates.

Kates left the meeting early because Katz and the three council members formed a quorum, technically making the meeting illegal.

Kates repeated her criticism that the meeting, which was called by Katz, should have been discussed by council and made more formal.

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