MTA Plans To Meet Residents’ Demands

Over the last number of years, residents of the Bay Ridge Towers have been fighting to get something done about the fencing problem around the property. The property which is located at the northern end of Bay Ridge, has train tracks that go under & around it. The issue concerning many residents is that there is a hiding space for homeless people amongst others underneath the propertys’ deck. The space is easily accessible due to a hole in the chain link fence. After years of battling, a new & stronger fence is being put in place. Jake Mooney of the New York Times has more on the story:

FOR at least four years, Barbara Grebin and fellow residents of Bay Ridge Towers, a pair of 30-story co-op buildings at the northern tip of that Brooklyn neighborhood, have been fighting to seal off access to the train tracks that run under the complex’s parking deck and alongside its foundations.

The space under the deck, they and local officials say, is a cavernous hidden shelter for groups of homeless people, easily accessible by climbing through a hole in a chain-link fence and descending a rocky slope. There is ample room under its high ceiling to sleep in a dark corner or make a fire.

But the Long Island Rail Road, which owns the tracks, has always maintained that their security is the responsibility of the private freight company that leases them. That company disagreed, the fence around the tracks remained inadequate, and the homeless people kept coming. Which is why Ms. Grebin was not expecting much from a meeting at the co-op on the subject in May.

“I’m thinking, here we go again — I’m going down there, I’m going to hear a whole lot of nothing,” she recalled.

What she got, to her surprise and delight, was word that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which controls the L.I.R.R., would meet residents’ demands by putting up a new, stronger fence and increasing patrols of the area. The shift was announced in a news release from Gov. David Paterson, who cited concerns about rail security.

The president of the railroad, Helena Williams, in a letter to the local community board, insisted that the tracks were the freight line’s responsibility. But the agency will make the changes, she added, because it “strives to be a good neighbor.”

Regarding the territorial disputes, she said in an interview, “From the community’s perspective and the railroad’s perspective, these issues are secondary to the fact that we need fencing.”

Residents of neighborhoods along the railroad’s tracks frequently request fencing, she said, but she described the circumstances at Bay Ridge Towers as unique. Efforts to find homeless people under the buildings and persuade them to go elsewhere had failed, she said, and the site is tricky, from a security perspective, because it is both next to New York Harbor and on top of the Buckeye Pipeline, a conduit for aviation fuel that federal authorities said was the target of a failed 2007 terrorist plot.

“If the homeless have access,” Ms. Williams said, “then other unauthorized people can have access.”

According to Josephine Beckmann, district manager of Community Board 10, the organization that arranged the May 13 meeting, some residents greeted the news with a standing ovation, and one woman cried with joy.

Ms. Grebin, a 66-year-old retired administrative assistant, said she was “astounded” at the agency’s about-face, adding, “I was delirious that day.”

Now, she said happily, she is wondering if there is another cause she can focus on. “We’re a co-op,” she said, “and if something’s going on that we don’t like, we make a stink.”

Lets hope the new fencing will be installed in a timely manner & helps keep trespassers off the property & tracks.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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