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Peekskill Mayor Seeks Improvements At Train Station, Wants MTA Meeting

Peekskill Mayor Frank Catalina
Peekskill Mayor Frank Catalina Photo Credit: Contributed

PEEKSKILL, N.Y. -- Peekskill Mayor Frank Catalina has reached out to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to reiterate the city’s request for a meeting on the agency’s promise to improve commuter services.

The city received an outline of the agency’s 2015-18 financial plan last August, and has yet to meet with MTA officials, Catalina said in his letter.

Catalina, in a letter to Thomas F. Prendergast, the MTA’s chairman and chief executive officer, said several unsuccessful attempts to schedule the meeting finally led the City Council to pass a resolution requesting a response from the agency.

The mayor, who practices law full-time, said he would be willing to travel to the MTA’s offices in New York City. Barring that, he wrote, the city would provide Prendergast with “free parking and lunch at one of our fabulous local restaurants” if he came to Peekskill instead.

“In all seriousness though, we know that the MTA is a good neighbor . . . it’s just that you are not acting like one,” Catalina wrote, adding that he looked forward to hearing from the MTA.

The fate of the Peekskill Railroad Station was among the issues on the table, Catalina wrote.

According to the mayor, the long-dormant station was bought back to life after the MTA entered a lease agreement with Kelly’s Bar and Restaurant. It was a successful venture, Catalina said, until a few years ago when the monthly lease was “quadrupled.”

Catalina said that he has been told that any new venture there will be required to make more than $350,000 in improvements to the structure before another lease will be approved.

Also on the mayor’s wish list was the creation of a “Quiet Zone.” Catalina said that the “long, droning whistles” that the trains make as they pass through the city “wake up 10,000 to 15,000 of our 23,000 residents at all hours of the day and night.” One or two “hoots” on the horn in the wee hours of the morning should be sufficient, Catalina said.

Safety enhancements being made by the MTA at the railroad crossing, he said, should ensure that “the antiquated horns can become a thing of the past”

There are already several such zones on the Hudson, Harlem, New Haven, and New Jersey lines, Catalina noted.

Catalina also had a bone to pick with the MTA about the general condition of the tracks.

The city has spent more than $20 million turning around what was a blighted area into an attractive riverfront park that has won state and national recognition.

The MTA has created a “junk yard,” the mayor said, by allowing the waterfront to become a permanent construction staging area and a depository for waste like used rails.

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