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Putting the Croton Express Back on the Right Track

July 28, 2006

In their letters in the July 27, 2006, issue of The Gazette, fellow travelers Richard Pellicci and William Rooney proudly unveiled their latest creation—“cash for trash.”

Brilliant. Take the very complicated issues facing the village over the former C&D (construction and debris) facility at 1A Croton Point Avenue and boil them down to a three-word rhyming jingle. Then repeat. And repeat.

The jarring reality this time around for Maria Cudequest’s coalition of unwilling soreheads, which also includes Don Daubney, Susan Konig, Joanne Minett and Robert Wintermeier, is that the community is tired of their one-note whining and is no longer listening to them.

In Mr. Pellicci’s griping letter (does he write any other kind?), he repeats “Where is the outrage?” three times. Then he asks residents to go to village board meetings and ask the “cash for trash trio” (refering to Trustees Gallelli, Kane and Wiegman) these questions: “What gives you the right to overrule Mayor Schmidt who vowed to keep Croton free of garbage? What gives you the right to put our health and welfare at great risk again?”

What gives them the right to outvote the Mayor (not “overrule”—he’s not King Gregory the First) is nothing more than the good old democtratic process at work. As for the worn-out argument that our health and welfare was put at risk, there never has been a shred of tangible evidence of that.

Frustrated must be this band of self-appointed activists who have been, as Mayor Dr. Gregory Schmidt says, “in this fight” for the last eight years. Disappointed, too, must the Mayor have been that no one showed up at the microphone last Monday night to berate the “cash for trash trio” for their reasoned decision to ask special counsel Michael Gerrard to draft a counter to the offer made by Regus Industries CEO Andreas Gruson at the recent “listening session.” And lonely must have been ringleader Maria Cudequest when no one from her posse of hard-riding vigilantes joined her at Tuesday night’s Planning Board meeting, where Regus’s operating permit application was undergoing a formal review.


Once legal fees surpassed the staggering mark of one million dollars under Mayor Schmidt’s leadership (see: “What’s up Doc?”) and Maria Cudequest’s guidance, it quickly became obvious that the Croton Express was careening down the wrong track completely out of control. Croton’s Democratic majority should be commended for finally taking charge and addressing the crucial issues surrounding 1A Croton Point Avenue (see: “The Devil is in the Details: 1A Croton Point Avenue”). Bravo!

On July 30, 2006 10:27 AM, SSmith said:

Clearly, in any sticky situation in life with no easy answers it is better to have the devil you know than the one you don’t - or can not control. This may be the case if the STB were to allow BSOR or any other railroad to operate a waste transfer operation at the Greentree site. We would then have ZERO control over what happens at that industrial site forever.

Perhaps Ms. Cudequest and her activist colleagues would be better informed and perhaps better understand what a village with a $13MM budget were up against if they reviewed their American history textbooks. Railroads have always wielded immense power in our country and will continue to do so long past our time here. In fact they were THE economic engine of our country in the 19th century and well into the 20th century. Heck, the railroad is basically what created this village. Railroads are still a vital cog in our economy which is why Congress and the DOT will generally act in their favor. It is a powerful industry in ways people can not even imagine.

Look, no one wants “garbage” in the village, that is a given. But in the case of the old operation of metro-enviro it WAS NOT a landfill or garbage dump ever. So mischaracterizing the argument as Ms. Cudequest has done for years; makes her look even less credible then she already does. This is why so many of us tuned her out long ago. She sounds like a broken record. Virtually all of the transferring from truck to train was done inside a covered garage to reduce potential environmental hazards. Delivering trucks were given pre-scheduled hours of operation for drop-offs. And only certain types of debris were supposed to be brought in there for transfer. As Mrs. Grant states above that is old news and not even relevant now. I contend that it was a far better situation than the unknown and potentially uncontrollable railroad that may be allowed at that site at some point very soon. Our Mayor’s strategy has been easily circumvented due to its poor planning. So far we have wasted $1 MILLION of hard earned taxpayer money for what??????

As someone who has been to the site and walked by it 5 days a week for many years now heading to the train station; I would have to say it was a fairly clean and unobtrusive operation relative to the usual hustle and bustle in that area. In fact the truck drivers going down to the site were by far more courteous to us walkers crossing the roads down there than most drivers heading to the station!!! I don’t think I would be far out on a limb in saying that a large majority of Croton residents did not or do not even know where or what is at that site. But what we do know is that our tax bills are skyrocketing in large part due to the litigation costs the village has incurred during all of this with virtually no apparent exit strategy…until now. Congratulations, Trustees Kane, Gallelli, and Weigman for finally putting some sanity back in the board room.

As before, I submit that the regular daily operations of metro-north, along with the thousands of polluting cars and trucks (carrying who knows what) that scream thru Croton on Route 9 EVERY day, are potentially more hazardous to our air quality and local environment then the waste transfer station at 1A Croton Point Avenue.

Sadly, catchy slogans (like cash for trash, NO Negotiations, flip-flopper- remember that one?, etc.), fear-mongering, and disrespectful attacks is what the Republican Party is all about these days – both in small towns like Croton and in Washington. This has severely divided all of us. Unfortunately, the outcome is that Croton and America have become politically dangerous and ugly places to live. It is a sorry time for our society – one that history will not judge favorably.

On July 28, 2006 6:49 PM, weewill said:

Add to the above insightfull editorial, Tom Brennan’s letter in the June 26th Gazette. His comments are extremely limited with no apparent awareness of the consequences of an unregulated waste transfer station at 1A Croton Point Avenue. He puppets the irresponsible and unrealistic approach of the Cudequest, Rooney and Pellicci club. Their NO NEGOTIATION approach to the problems facing this village will achieve absolutely nothing. Failing to explore all the implications and consequences of this narrow and unrealistic thinking can be devastating for Croton. Most reasonable folks - and that I believe them to be the majority of silent residents - trust their elected officials to realistically assess the problems and our legal chances in a court of law. Most reasonable folks suspect that the Bush administration is NOT going to rewrite STB policy any time soon. Bills can be written and submitted to the House or Senate but the wheels turn slowly, if at all. The first to tell you this would be the Kennedy’s, Schummer’s, Clinton’s and Kelly’s, all of whom have pledged their “help.” We have, at a minimum two more years of the STB’s mandate staying the same as it is now. And longer than that when the majorities of both houses might change in November. Troubling but true, a whole lot of the outcome depends on political factors - lobbyists, dollars donated, influence peddling, etc. Regardless of how many Congressional Democrats and/or Republicans want change, the outcome is tenuous at best.Every good leader has a fall back plan.

Tom Brennan and CDQ and company want to make negotiations seem really bad for Croton. They’re trapped by the unbending nature of their long-time positions on the old Metro Enviro. Metro Enviro is gone, done, finished. I once again remind them that this is a different ball game completely. Metro Enviro will look pretty good if a new completely unregulated operation goes in that site. Isn’t it wise to at least attempt to arrive at agreement for reasonable guidelines and specific restrictions to protect the quality of life in our village? Inflexible “leaders” are a hindrance when faced with new and changing circumstances. This 2006 situation at 1A Croton Point Avenue is categorically different from the 1998 – 2001 situation. There are significant differences and the accompanying risk of leaving it all up to the courts is more dangerous than even before.

If Trustee Brennan and the Mayor are comfortable with only one hammer in their toolbox to protect Croton (NEVER NEGOTIATE), then they are being short-sighted and stuck in place. Not a good place to be.

Georgianna Grant


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