Ft. Salonga Association
1019 Ft. Salonga Rd.
Ste. 10 - 170
Northport NY 11768
February 16, 2023
The Honorable Martin J. Oberman - Chairman Surface Transportation Board
395 E Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20423
RE: Surface Transportation Board Decision, Docket No. FD_36575
Dear Chairman Oberman,
Local communities recently learned that Townline Rail Terminal, LLC, an affiliate of CarlsonCorp, Inc., plans toconstruct and operate a new rail line in the hamlet of Kings Park, New York. According to the newly discovered plans,the line would extend approximately 5,000 feet on a portion of CarlsonCorp’s industrial property running parallel to aresidential neighborhood, a spur trailing off the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) Port Jefferson Line.
What is troubling to us is that the plans fail to show that the train yard will be only 500 feet from residentialneighborhoods in Kings Park, with Fort Salonga being almost as close. Additionally, this site is within close proximityto thousands of homes in the communities of East Northport, Commack and Northport. What the plans fail to show isthat there are a minimum of eight schools within a two-and-a-half-mile radius to the proposed rail yard. What is notincluded is that the area includes a federal government classified deep recharge area for a sole source aquifer.
This is going to be a regional train yard with five tracks totaling almost 10,000 feet, two buildings, with one spanning80,000 sq.ft. (almost 2 acres in size), with the second covering 20,000 sq.ft., along with a freight car capacity for 161cars, totaling 10,456 feet of train, neighboring homes with young children.
The surrounding communities were never advised by local, state or federal officials that this was ever a possibility.Just the opposite, the last the community knew, there was going to be an indoor compost facility on this property. Thatwas in 2018. Community members were brought into town hall, shown a detailed PowerPoint presentation, and thenmarginalized, not to be spoken to again about this property.
Several local elected officials have written letters to the STB in favor of this proposal, with one even stating there is noother option nor any type of organized opposition. To start, the surrounding communities were unaware of this plan
until after the new year, and second, and more importantly, we now know, we are organized and we are strongly
opposed to the plan in its entirety. The above-mentioned officials failed in their duty as elected representatives to
advise, educate and give community members an opportunity to be heard before writing formal letters supporting thisplan. The Smithtown Planning Department has denied that any type of permit had been submitted, though the SurfaceTransportation Board has requested specific details about this proposed project from them, more specifically, detailedinformation relating to composition of structures, etc. These questions cannot be answered without prior knowledge ofor collaboration with Townline Rail Terminal or its parent, CarlsonCorp.
This proposal has many questions, and more problems than solutions. This is not an industrial area in the middle ofnowhere. The truth is the location of the proposed train yard is on the very edge of the industrial area, literally in theback yard of families and their homes. No reasonable person would believe that a berm, which the town’s supervisorhas mentioned, would ever hide the noise, fumes, site, nor minimize the numerous health risks this yard threatens.Moreover, with its proximity to residential neighborhoods and to the deep recharge sole source aquifer, it is beyondour understanding that the Surface Transportation Board granted a waiver to Townline Rail to forego a full Environmental Statement for a scaled-down Environmental Analysis. The ground water from this industrial park hasresulted in a large pollution plume north and east. By allowing CarlsonCorp to build a rail terminal on this site, on topof what is already devastated and overburdened ground, the families, whether twenty, two-hundred or two-thousand,will be affected and the ones paying the price with their health and the health of their children.
It is important for the Surface Transportation Board to also know that the surrounding communities already bear theburden of several major sources of environmental blight, including the Huntington Resource Recovery Facility(Covanta incinerator), the Northport power plant, the nearby Huntington and Smithtown landfills and their methane
burners/vents, the medical waste incinerators at St. Catherine's Medical Center and the Northport VA Hospital, andthe various heavy industrial uses that have been going on in this area for decades, many of which continue to operateillegally and unchecked by both the towns of Smithtown and Huntington.
We respectfully ask that the Surface Transportation Board A) revisit the OEA’s decision on revising the move from anEIS to an EA, based on prior operations of CarlsonCorp and its subsidiaries. and B) to look at viable options thatothers have rejected for unknown reasons and put a halt to this project before innocent families have to suffer the
consequences. We are aware of the eventual closing of the Brookhaven landfill, which will happen incrementally. Weare also aware that there are far better locations moving forward to tackle the issue of removing ash off Long Island,such as the Winter Bros. 228-acre site in Yaphank, which will be almost three times the size of the proposed TownlineRail Terminal. As well, the landfill in Babylon Township will be using rail to remove ash and other materials. These areviable options, yet our elected officials say otherwise.
I appreciate your attention to this project.
Keith S. Macartney President
Cc: Justin J. Marks
Edward R. Wehrheim
Nicholas Fusco & Elizabeth Fusco
Honorable Patrick J. Fuchs
Honorable Michelle A. Schultz
Honorable Robert E. Primus,
Honorable Karen J. Hedlund
Honorable Pete Buttigieg, Secretary of Transportation
Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand
Senator Charles E. Schumer
Rep. Nick LaLota
Steve Bellone, Suffolk County Executive
Peter Hans, Town of Smithtown, Planning Director
James Bonner, Pres., New York & Atlantic Railway