On the Beacon Line Advocacy Group (although Tim Delaney is also already our resident artist) we are first and foremost transportation geeks. We've pursued various transportation schemes to much frustration.
We live completely at the mercy of the MTA on this issue. Here we have a public service transportation authority, owning transportation infrastructure, in a city that desperately wants to find transportation alternatives, and nothing happens. Money is obviously an issue. There are also daunting legal complexities.
But getting something done here with the MTA is not impossible. Jared Rodriguez at the Lefrak Organization and Mayor Randy Casale have properly identified the State Assembly as the pressure point where we can get the MTA to consider our plans.
But before we approach our Assembly representative, Frank Skartados, we need to have a good plan.
That's where you come in.
This post is a follow up post to a post I made here a month and a half ago:
The basic idea is to turn the Beacon Line into a walkable sculpture park, like Storm King Art Center. We therefore obviously need Beacon artists on board to make this happen, in any capacity you imagine yourself, for now, it's yours for the taking.
The Beacon Line is virtually railbanked. Trains haven't run on it in years, and apparently there is a bridge out in Brewster, destroying the reason the MTA acquired the line in the first place: to move trains between MetroNorth lines without having to go to Grand Central.
So it should be possible to recharacterize the Beacon Line's legal status: have the State, not the MTA, assume liability and ownership of the line. We need to familiarize ourselves with the legal ins and outs of railbanking, but the point is to remove the problem the MTA would obviously have with the idea of lots of people using the line for walking/ biking (maybe even a dinky shuttle) on what is currently legally understood to be their spur line for locomotive movement.
Perhaps the legal conditions can be set up such that trains can still move on the line when needed (such as an emergency condition where trains cannot get to Grand Central but need to change lines). This would not interfere with the sculpture park, and the sculpture park would not interfere with train movement on the line, which is always going to be slow due to the big curve. My neighbor gave me a good tip at a holiday party last month about how the sculptures, and the trains do not have to interfere with each other, see Hartsdale Station's art installation as an example:
Fill in between the rails with sand, put in rubber or wood platforms between the rails on the bridges, fence certain areas, put the sculptures off to the side at select points, and there is no real danger here- biking on Main Street is more dangerous. And we're also not talking about a lot of expense.
And the plan would naturally complement Scenic Hudson's efforts with a trail along Fishkill Creek and linking Klara Sauer/ Madam Brett/ Longdock. Currently those plans are aimed at walking, not biking, so the rail line would be almost a necessity unless the Fishkill Creek trail is reset to include biking as a design parameter.
I am appealing to you today, artists of Beacon. Please join us.
Contact me or anyone else whose email address is listed on our contact page, and we would be delighted to arrange an impromptu meet up:
(Yes the site is outdated and needs an overhaul, I'm on it.)
Think the Walkway Over the Hudson in Poughkeepsie, or the Highline in Manhattan. That's the dream.
I won't lie to you, it's a long shot. But if the stars align right, we can have something just as big here in Beacon. It's the worth the effort. And it won't cost a lot, and the political/ legal wrangling is just not that daunting a prospect, people will come on board with this.