Railway Preservation News

Catskill Mountain Railroad News - 2015
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Author:  eehiv [ Fri Feb 20, 2015 6:44 pm ]
Post subject:  Catskill Mountain Railroad News - 2015

Kingston, NY -- February 17, 2015 --The Catskill Mountain Railroad (CMRR) posted total ridership of 40,270 for 2014, a major increase from 14,823 passengers in 2013. Revenues also increased to an estimated $1 million in 2014/2015 up from $117,210 in 2013/2014, according to a statement released this week by the organization. The CMRR estimates its economic impact on Ulster County rose to over $3 million in 2014 from $1.3 million in 2013 with 75% of that impact centered in Kingston.

"If you look at the county's major tourist attractions," said CMRR President, Ernie Hunt, "you see Belleayre Mt. Ski Center, HITS, and the Headless Horseman. With more than 40,000 visitors between Kingston and Phoenicia, we are now within the top five tourist attractors in the county, and certainly the biggest in the city of Kingston." Hunt went on to say that CMRR had incredible support from the Kingston area business community and we couldn't have achieved these results without those collaborations. They provided critical goods and services that made these events special.

Kingston train operations saw passenger numbers climb to 31,289 , up from 4,575 in 2013, an increase of nearly 700 percent overall, while the rest of the 40,270 riders boarded in Phoenicia. Of the Kingston riders, at least 21,278 came from outside Ulster County (21% NYC and Long Island, 21% Orange County, 18% Dutchess County, 17% other Lower Hudson Counties, 11 percent from other NY State Counties, and 12% from out of state) according to zip code analysis. The CMRR delivered significant numbers of riders directly to the doors of Kingston area restaurants and shops last year to do additional spending through the CMRR's "Railroad Dollars" coupon program. Additionally, the CMRR purchased more than $300,000 in goods from 21 different Ulster County businesses.

Building on the improvements gained in 2014, the railroad has also released a new document CMRR Business Plan 2015 to 2020, ( http://www.catskillmtrailroad.com/cmrr_business_plan_kingston.pdf ) for the Kingston segment of its operations. The plan outlines how the CMRR can more than double its economic impact on Kingston and Ulster County to $7 million a year by extending its Kingston operations an additional five miles to the Glenford Dike on the Ashokan Reservoir. Its plan shows how the addition of a scenic destination such as the Glenford Dike, and adult-themed passenger rides, which require a longer ride and a scenic destination, will transform the CMRR into a major regional tourist attraction focusing on "experiential" tourism.

"Understanding "experiential tourism" is a critical concept for economic development in a tourism economy. Tourists not only travel to see scenic beauty, but also seek entertainment," says Hunt. "Unlike recreational parks and trails, the railroad can combine the scenic beauty of the Catskills with the entertainment of a theme park. This is why the railroad experienced such huge growth in Kingston in 2014, through adding nationally-branded entertainment to its rides."
Having identified the potential positive tourism and economic impact in the CMRR's new business plan, Hunt, said a December compromise offered by the County Executive was a good first step in creating a comprehensive plan for the Ulster and Delaware corridor that includes a viable tourist train operation in Kingston. "Although we were never given a copy of the Executive's proposal, the compromise as described in the executive's press release to newspapers does seem to show that our differences in the city limits of Kingston are minimal. Even though we may differ on what length of railroad is optimal to create the maximum economic contribution to Ulster County, there is no reason we can't immediately start working together on what we agree on, i.e., the railroad's place in Kingston.

Hunt called for an end to the pointless litigation between the County and the railroad based on the County'€™s ongoing goal to terminate its lease prior to the natural 2016 expiration date. "As we enter into the last year of operation on our 25 year lease, the County's continued efforts to terminate the lease serve no purpose, especially since the County seems to want the special events planned by the railroad to continue in 2015." Hunt called on the County to cease its efforts to terminate its lease and put this litigation behind us so we can sit down and work out the best mixture of rail and trail in the corridor to create the most economic value for the County. More information on the CMRR and all of its activities is available at http://www.catskillmtrailroad.com .

Author:  thebigham [ Wed Feb 25, 2015 4:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Catskill Mountain Railroad News - 2015

http://www.dailyfreeman.com/opinion/201 ... -its-parts

LETTER: Rail with trail greater than sum of its parts

Posted: 02/21/15, 11:09 PM EST |

Dear Editor,

I strongly support an unsegmented rail, with a trail alongside, from Kingston, N.Y., to Highmount, N.Y. Rail with trail would clearly have an outcome greater than the sum of its parts, and we would all be winners.

During the six weekends of The Polar Express, pajama-clad children and adults were sighted all over Uptown Kingston and even in Midtown. Thousands and thousands of visitors streamed into Kingston, many for the first time, just because of The Polar Express train event.

In case some may think that these train events are based on cartoons, be aware that, in 1986, the book, “The Polar Express,” received the highly respected and coveted Caldecott Medal in children’s literature for its illustrations. Also, “Day Out With Thomas” is based upon “The Railway Series” books in which Thomas the tank engine first appeared in 1946.

I’m sure that the Ulster County Legislature and the county executive have heard from Kingston businesses about the value and importance of the Catskill Mountain Railroad to our local economy. The economic benefit to Kingston and Ulster County is measurable. The “joie de vivre” is intangible and has added to the quality of life for many local residents and outside visitors.

With fire in their belly and old-fashioned pioneer grit, the Catskill Mountain Railroad has had an outstanding year and has brought fame and fortune to Kingston and Ulster County. I think the Catskill Mountain Railroad deserves “The Pride of Ulster County” award.

Meg Carey

Glenford, N.Y.

Author:  thebigham [ Fri Feb 27, 2015 11:29 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Catskill Mountain Railroad News - 2015

http://www.dailyfreeman.com/opinion/201 ... ternatives

LETTER: Ulster County negligent in not studying trail alternatives

Dear Editor:

I am the sort of person who enjoys contemplating “what if” scenarios, and that has led me to wonder why there is no alternative analysis for the Ulster & Delaware trail. So far, all we have heard is an insistent call for the railroad to be ripped up for the trail without any further thought.

So what choices do we have? For starters, we have state Route 28, most of which has a paved, 10-foot-wide shoulder on each side. Guard rails could easily be put up along one side to give trail users more protection. There also are sections of Old Route 28 and other parallel side roads that have little traffic and could be used. Then there are existing trails and abandoned plank roads that have not been taken into account. Portions of the rail right-of-way still could be used, parallel to the tracks.

In short, the county should have funded a full alternatives analysis for the trail instead of engaging in legal squabbles in what has proven to be a futile effort to kick the Catskill Mountain Railroad out so far.

I might add that the railroad has become an economic driver that can’t be ignored. It needs to be fully developed in concert with the trail network.

Bill Hutchison
Largo, Fla.

Author:  HunterD [ Sun Mar 01, 2015 1:37 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Catskill Mountain Railroad News - 2015

And some how a trail is suppose to bring "160,000" people?

Author:  Rick Rowlands [ Sun Mar 01, 2015 5:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Catskill Mountain Railroad News - 2015

Trails are very discriminatory. They discriminate against the handicapped, the obese, those who are out of shape and the elderly. Only people who are of good enough shape to ride a bike or walk long distances can utilize a trail. Those who are not, the "disadvantaged, disabled and decrepit", are effectively shut out.

The tourist railroad is the great equalizer. Anyone can enjoy the corridor regardless of physical condition or age. In these days of political correctness, the discriminatory trails must be banished in favor of accessible and nondiscriminatory tourist rail service!

Author:  Lincoln Penn [ Sun Mar 01, 2015 5:49 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Catskill Mountain Railroad News - 2015

HunterD wrote:
And some how a trail is suppose to bring "160,000" people?


1 person 160,000 times.

Author:  HunterD [ Mon Mar 02, 2015 9:15 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Catskill Mountain Railroad News - 2015

I have always hated rail trails!

Author:  thebigham [ Mon Mar 02, 2015 9:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Catskill Mountain Railroad News - 2015

http://www.dailyfreeman.com/opinion/201 ... -sidewalks

LETTER: Yet another trail? How about a walking tour of Kingston ... on sidewalks?

Dear Editor:

Yet another trail in a county with many scenic trails? What is special to Kingston is a unique railroad that should be treasured. Some of us can’t walk that far and would appreciate being able to ride on a railroad through as much beautiful scenery as possible that originates in Kingston.

Want walking trails in Kingston? Design some to show off the beautiful woodframe houses in Kingston, our only city, with some of our only sidewalks in the county.

The question is, why haven’t Kingston and Ulster County supported the Herculean efforts of the volunteers trying to restore the Catskill Mountain Railroad with grants to hire people and buy needed materials? We must admire the railroad enthusiasts who did their best in the last few decades.

Shame on Ulster County Executive Michael Hein for not seeing the possibilities for attracting tourists and locals to the Rondout for a railroad trip, a meal and window shopping.

Andi Weiss Bartczak
Gardiner, N.Y.

Author:  thebigham [ Mon Mar 09, 2015 7:49 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Catskill Mountain Railroad News - 2015

http://www.dailyfreeman.com/general-new ... -out-areas

Catskill Mountain Railroad offers to help Ulster County repair washed-out areas
By Patricia Doxsey, Daily Freeman

Posted: 03/09/15, 5:34 PM EDT

KINGSTON >> The Catskill Mountain Railroad, which is embroiled in a legal battle with Ulster County, is offering its help repair three washouts on the western end of the former Ulster & Delaware RaiIroad line.

In a March 6 letter to Brian Cunningham, acting commissioner of the county Department of Public Works, Catskill Mountain Railroad President Ernie Hunt said the company “would like to assist Ulster County DPW in any way to help in these repairs.”

He said he appointed the company’s engineer to serve as liaison to the county and asked that Cunningham “schedule a working meeting ... at the soonest practical date.”

Hunt’s offer follows an announcement made by County Executive Michael Hein during a recent Ulster County Regional Chamber of Commerce breakfast that the county will begin repairing the washed out areas.

Deputy County Executive Robert Sudlow said the county’s own professional engineer will begin assessing the damage and how best to proceed with the repairs once spring arrives.

“We have a professional engineer on staff, and I will defer to him,” Sudlow said.

He said he was unaware of Hunt’s letter to Cunningham.

“If I had the letter, my first step would be to go to the county attorney because of the lawsuits that are pending,” Sudlow said.

The Catskill Mountain Railroad and the county are locked in a legal battle stemming from the county’s attempt to evict the railroad for not living up to the terms of its lease of county-owned tracks.

In 2012, Hein announced plans to turn the Ulster & Delaware line east of the Ashokan Reservoir into a pedestrian trail.

In June 2013, the county served the railroad with a notice of default, claiming the railroad failed to live up to the terms of the 25-year lease under which it is allowed to operate tourist trains on the tracks between Kingston and the Delaware County line. The railroad currently uses two sections of track: one in the Kingston-Ulster area and one between Mount Tremper and Phoenicia,

The railroad subsequently filed a lawsuit against the county to stop the eviction prior to the May 31, 2016, the expiration date of the lease, as well as “unspecified damages” it says it’s entitled to because the county made “a number of statements that are derogatory and/or untrue regarding the Catskill Mountain Railroad ... in press releases, articles and/or public meetings.”

The county, in its countersuit, is seeking $1 million in damages it says it is due as a result of the railroad’s default on the lease.

That lawsuit is pending before state Supreme Court Justice Richard Mott.

Author:  J3a-614 [ Sat Mar 14, 2015 3:45 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Catskill Mountain Railroad News - 2015

Some commentary by an observer:

https://richardfrisbie.wordpress.com/20 ... g-picture/

Another observer had similar thoughts in 2013--and what's most interesting is who this person is, and who he works for:

http://www.railwayage.com/index.php/blo ... -prep.html

Author:  thebigham [ Mon Mar 16, 2015 1:39 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Catskill Mountain Railroad News - 2015

http://www.dailyfreeman.com/opinion/201 ... ortunities

LETTER: We are chasing away our business opportunities

Posted: 03/13/15, 11:01 PM EDT |

Dear Editor,

There is nothing for Ulster County or the city of Kingston for business and work. In years past, the shirt, pajama, and dress factories moved from Kingston and went south. The brick companies all went out of business and went south.

I knew a man that moved to our area who had a factory in Brooklyn. He wanted to have his factory in Kingston. He was told not to look as they did not want any factories in Kingston. I was there when he told my father about it.

The liquor company moved out of Kingston. Ferroxcube, American Candle Co. and, now, the bottled water company has been chased out.

There is plenty of fresh water here. The Ashokan was releasing millions of gallons of water into the Esopus Creek last year. We can take the clear blue water from the Hudson River. Port Ewen used Hudson River water for years. There was no cause to chase the bottling company for lack of water.

Bye, bye business.

Now you have a gold mine with Ulster and Delaware Railroad. This would bring people to our area from the nearby big cities to ride a train through the Catskills and also bring life back to the towns along the route from Kingston to the Delaware County line. I’m sure railroads remove rails and ties that are not good for high speed trains and are usable for slow-moving trains. I’m sure there are some good people left in our country that would even donate them.

Another reminder: I worked as an engineer for Cornell Steamboat Co. and Moran Towing Co. for 40 some years. At that time, we were tending the Great Lakes Dredging Co., which was making the Hudson deeper off Kingston Point. Our captain told me the dredge captain asked me if the ones up here were crazy. He had offered to pump the clean sand and fill the mosquito infested swamp to the lighthouse for free. What a park we would have had. The ones running the city said no, as they used the swamp for duck hunting. We then took the sand and dumped it in a hole at West Point. What a waste.

So, kids, finish your education and go south for work. What did Horace Greeley say? “Go west, young man.”

Charles Lang

Kingston, N.Y.

Author:  thebigham [ Sun Apr 12, 2015 8:57 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Catskill Mountain Railroad News - 2015

http://www.dailyfreeman.com/general-new ... astructure

Kingston council leaders, in speeches, focus on rail, trail, infrastructure
By Ariel Zangla, Daily Freeman

Posted: 04/08/15, 3:26 PM EDT |

KINGSTON >> The Common Council’s majority and minority leaders say court battles should be stopped and a compromise reached on efforts surrounding the expansion of a tourist rail line and recreational trails in the area.

Majority Leader Matthew Dunn, D-Ward 1, and Minority Leader Deborah Brown, R-Ward 9, presented their “State of the City” addresses Tuesday evening at City Hall. While each spoke on a variety of topics, they both addressed the ongoing rail-vs.-trail battle and touched on the city’s infrastructure, Board of Water Commissioners and the creation of an updated municipal Comprehensive Plan.

“We need the tourist trains to grow our local economy,” Dunn said in his address. “Over the past year, the rail [Catskill Mountain Railroad] attracted over 40,000 riders, and 30,000 were from out of the county.”

Dunn also said many local businesses provided services to users of the rail line, which benefited the economy. He said Democratic members of the council would support efforts to develop a “win-win situation” between the proponents of the railroad and a recreational trail.

Dunn said there are challenges to be addressed in doing so, including determining how to access the rails to swap out equipment, how to make a path from the Kingston Plaza to the Glenford Dike wide enough for both the rail and trail and how to get approval from the New York City Department of Environmental Protection for the two to coexist.

The Catskill Mountain Railroad operates a tourist train on the former Ulster & Delaware tracks, which are owned by the county, but does so under a lease that expires in May 2016. The railroad wants to extend its Kingston-Ulster operation to the Ashokan Reservoir’s Glenford Dike, which is about a mile west of the Woodstock Dike.

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection, which operates the reservoir, has said it will not allow trains to run along the northern edge of the reservoir, which would be necessary to reach the Glenford Dike,

Ulster County Executive Michael Hein wants the county Legislature to adopt what he said is his “compromise plan” to allow a tourist train to continue operating between Kingston Plaza and just below the Kenco store on state Route 28 in the town of Ulster. The compromise reverses Hein’s initial plans for the trail that rejected any notion of a continued train operation on the Kingston-Ulster side of the reservoir.

“Let’s move from fighting each other and wasting money in the courts to proactively developing solutions,” Dunn said.

Brown also mentioned the controversial nature of the projects but said she was excited and encouraged by the trail initiative moving forward “as it plays into the city of Kingston’s programs to live and maintain a healthy lifestyle.”

Brown, though, said there is a place for trains like those run by the Catskill Mountain Railroad, which has proved it can be a money-making entity.

“Some concessions need to be made,” Brown said. “Stop spending taxpayers’ dollars on the lawsuit [between the county and railroad], which has been a considerable amount. Even the Ulster County Legislature has been grappling with this agenda. We need to have all entities involved, including the county, to agree to an in-depth, unbiased and impartial study on the feasibility of having trail and rail abiding side by side whenever possible on the land masses involved.”

The county and railroad have been in a legal battle over whether the railroad is complying with the terms of its lease to use the tracks.

Brown also said she would like to see certified plans and diagrams publicized.

Author:  eehiv [ Wed Apr 22, 2015 9:44 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Catskill Mountain Railroad News - 2015

The Ulster County Legislature last night passed a resolution to create a special committee to review the U&D corridor and hire a consultant to help determine the long-term strategy for the corridor.

This was fiercely opposed by the County Executive and the Trail advocates, but passed anyway 21-1. The new resolution effectively cancels the resolution from last year to convert the corridor to a trail from Kingston to Boiceville.

It is a move forward to a rational dialogue on the future of the corridor.

http://ulstercountyny.gov/sites/default ... 5-15_3.pdf


Author:  ArtS [ Wed Apr 22, 2015 5:20 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Catskill Mountain Railroad News - 2015

WOW, Congratulations on another step forward!


Art S.

Author:  thebigham [ Wed Apr 22, 2015 10:46 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Catskill Mountain Railroad News - 2015

21-1. Wow. Not good for Hein or the trail people

http://www.dailyfreeman.com/general-new ... rail-issue

More talk, more time, more money devoted to Ulster County trail issue
By Patricia Doxsey, Daily Freeman

Posted: 04/22/15, 6:14 PM EDT |

KINGSTON >> The Ulster County Legislature has created a new committee, and committed tens of thousands of dollars, to look anew at the county’s policy calling for a recreation trail along the former Ulster & Delaware rail corridor.

Legislators voted 21-1 Tuesday to adopt a resolution creating the Ulster & Delaware Corridor Advisory Committee and to move $30,000 from the county’s contingency account to pay for an independent consultant to aid the committee review of work already completed, facilitate discussions and help determine the most appropriate development of the 38-mile corridor. Legislator Richard Gerentine, R-Marlborough voted against the resolution.

The committee is to submit a written report of its findings and proposed next steps to the Legislature by Nov. 30.

Lawmakers hope the new committee, composed entirely of county legislators, will be able to look at the county’s current policy — and the potential uses for the corridor — without the controversy that has surrounded that debate so far.

The creation of the new committee comes eight months after lawmakers adopted a resolution calling for the corridor to be converted to a recreational trail only between Kingston and Boiceville — a resolution that some legislators now question.

“I hope there’s a way to develop a rail with trail,” said Legislator Manna Jo Greene, D-Rosendale. “I think both sides bring forth a lot of merit.”

Ulster County Executive Michael Hein originally proposed converting the railroad corridor between Kingston and the Ashokan Reservoir into a recreational trail, with a tourist train operating in the corridor west of the Ashokan. In December, though, he announced a revised plan that would allow a tourist train to also run between the Kingston Plaza and Hurley Mountain Road in the town of Ulster. For that plan to move forward, he said, the Legislature must revise its policy.

The county and the Catskill Mountain Railroad have been embroiled in a legal dispute since 2013, when the railroad sued the county after the county served the railroad with a notice of default, claiming the railroad failed to live up to the terms of its lease. The Catskill Mountain Railroad operates under a 25-year lease with the county that expires in May 2016.

Serving on the new committee are Legislators Lynn Archer, D-Accord, David Donaldson, D-Kingston, Greene, Jeanette Provenzano, D-Kingston, Ken Ronk, R-Wallkill, Herbert Litts, R-Lloyd, Carl Belfiglio, R-Espous, James Maloney, R-town of Ulster, and Tracey Bartels, a non-enrolled voter from Gardiner who caucuses with the Democrats.

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