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Kevin Newman is a genius: just move the T.O.D. to Matteawan Station

The T.O.D. is dead as a door knob: neither the city of Beacon nor the M.T.A. see eye-to-eye on the issue:

City officials have proposed temporarily putting on hold the acceptance and review of land-use applications for some properties near the waterfront.

 A proposed six-month moratorium would apply primarily to undeveloped properties in a roughly one-eighth-mile area along West Main Street, Beekman Street and Route 9D, Mayor Steve Gold and Councilman at-large George Mansfield said. 

 It would not apply to projects pending before the city, Mansfield said. 

 "If someone currently has plans submitted, they would not be subject to the moratorium," he said. 

 Projects at existing residences would be exempt, too, he said. 

 A public hearing on the change will be held during the July 19 City Council meeting. 

 Gold said the moratorium would give the city and its Committee on Transit-Oriented Development time to develop language necessary to create "waterfront linkage zones" between Main Street and the Hudson River in anticipation of future development there. 

 The zones could be pedestrian-friendly or accommodate alternative transportation, he said. 

 Mansfield and Margaret Ross, committee chairwoman, said the volunteer advisory panel has been exploring how to link the waterfront with Main Street without hurting Main Street. 

 "We need to have some control over that area so that we can ensure the kind of waterfront access we want," Ross said. 

 Last year, City Council declined considering a transit-oriented development plan presented by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The city and the MTA are not currently discussing a plan, according to officials. (Susan Campriello)

The underlying issues aren't changing: Beacon and Southern Dutchess are growing. We need better transportation links to the waterfront. We don't want to choke on scattershot uncoordinated growth without transportation thought out. More lanes and more cars are not an option: we don't want Beacon having a strip mall drawn through it, cutting off and atrophying car unfriendly Main Street from the waterfront. It would be a stab at the heart of Beacon, it would kill our growth. So the moratorium is good: we need a plan, and post-T.O.D., we don't have one. What should our plan be?


We don't want 9D turning into Route 9, but we can't stop the growth of the exurbs outside of Beacon's borders, and they all want to use our train station. The pressure is already on: they tried to open a Walgreens on 9D:


There are other development plans already angling along 9D to the train station. Daily, there are cars in gridlock from the train station to i84. The pressure is on, and growing. We have to get ahead of this pressure, control it, or it will destroy what is good about Beacon's layout. How can Beacon grow intelligently, and resist the pressures that would have the corridor from i84 to the train station becoming 6 lanes and bypass our Main Street? How do we increase transportation intelligently, and link Main Street up to all these tourists and commuters moving on our periphery every day, but not getting to Main Street because it's inconvenient?


It was my hope, when the T.O.D. was still in play, that some sort of concession could be derived from the M.T.A.: you can get your T.O.D., but the Beacon Line should be reopened. Anything. Any pokey little thing you can put on the tracks, please. And no businesses at the T.O.D., just residences, and therefore lots of new residents, a captive audience for Main Street businesses. I started the Beacon Line project in order to stump for some use for the Beacon Line, anything:


It is absurd to have a train line, owned by a transit agency no less, running through our growing city, clamoring for transport and linkage, and it's just lying fallow. It's ridiculous. It should be used for something, anything: dismantle the rails and turn it into a rail trail for hiking and biking? Sure. Rail-with-trail, hiking biking and some sort of light rail? Sure. Anything. Just not unused.


But all of these plans take money, and all of these plans have to convince the M.T.A. to make some movement, which it doesn't seem interested in making. Does anyone have a couple of million to buy out the M.T.A.? No. Thus the T.O.D. as leverage. But, the T.O.D. being dead, that leverage doesn't exist anymore.


In my stumping for the cause of the Beacon Line, I linked up with Kevin Newman, who is passionate about the Beacon Line's future use as a transportation corridor for Southern Dutchess. His research is outstanding:


Anyway, commiserating with Kevin recently about the inability to get movement on the Beacon Line with the T.O.D. dead as January in Siberia, Kevin says: "why not just move the T.O.D. to Matteawan Station?" (that's the old station stop on East Main).


At first, it sounds ludicrous: the T.O.D. plan at Beacon Station was all about the land that the M.T.A. owns there. It just owns the rails at East Main, no land.


But hold on: the city is motivated here, and the city is thinking big about linkages: surely there is something that the city can concede to the M.T.A. in terms of land or ownership at East Main? Have the old buildings bought back to life, with the M.T.A. as a profiting partner in some capacity they would be interested in?


The land around Matteawan Station is a combination of Ehrlich and city ownership. Bring the Ehrlichs into the deal, they want to see their unused land portfolio capitalized on, not lying fallow.


There's some sort of deal here, something where the city benefits with transport to East Main by rail, the M.T.A. benefits (as long as they put their rail to use for us), and the existing landowners profit off of their dormant land portfolio coming back to life, like the wonderful Roundhouse development rapidly coming into play.


Beacon benefits because getting trains to East Main gets tourists from Dia to East Main. We also benefit because getting Matteawan Station opened is just step #1: Fishkill would be next. Rather than clogging our 9D, we take car pressure off 9D by having commuters park on Route 9 at Fishkill instead. Fishkill would love it: tourists and commuters and residents would be going up to Fishkill's downtown by train too. And no, a T.O.D. at East Main would not clog the streets with cars: we're talking about a train station here. That's the whole point: less cars, not more.


Do we want Main St. and side streets choked by cars? 9D turned into Route 9? How do we prevent these things when growth in the city, and outside the city, is inevitable? How do we get intelligent transport? How do we get ahead of these transport problems and turn them into pluses rather than negatives? How do we reduce the number of cars yet still have good transport?


So the Beacon Line is a no-brainer. It's just a matter of HOW. Assembling all the players into a good deal, where everyone benefits, not least of which, Main Street and the city of Beacon: there is a way to do it. Matteawan Station, with some sort of rail transport to Beacon Station, anything, would turn our city into an outstanding exemplary environmentally friendly nirvana of intelligent growth, and free us from choking on cars.


So Kevin Newman, you're a genius: a T.O.D. in Beacon... but at Matteawan Station.


Landowners, M.T.A., business leaders, government of Beacon: let's make it happen.


It will be a big complicated deal, lots of pitfalls and cynicism and resistance out of simple inertia, but it would do wonders for our gem of a little city, and it is possible for all of the stakeholders to profit here, not least of which, the residents and businesses of Beacon, with better transportation.


Views: 512

Tags: 9D, M.T.A., T.O.D., intelligent growth, matteawan station, transportation, waterfront


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Comment by Ben Royce on July 29, 2011 at 8:53am

DC: I respect your opinion. It is entirely within your right to be violently opposed to using the Beacon Line.


That said, this is called a deal: The M.T.A. wants a T.O.D., the city wants better transportation. We deal with each other, we arrive at a deal? Do you see? I am asking for the M.T.A. to throw us a bone on the Beacon Line, ANYTHING, as part of a deal on their precious T.O.D.


Anything: a study, a railroad handcart with two guys on either side pumping furiously, a skateboard park, ANYTHING, from the M.T.A. in terms of getting them to do something with the Beacon Line. "Hey, M.T.A., you want a T.O.D.? Then throw us a bone." Is that so awful DC?


I want this:



You act like I'm asking for this:


I happen to think that getting them to provide a link to East Main is not something on the order of the Apollo Space Program, which seems to be your understanding. That's fine. I really have to wonder why you phrase it in such a way that if we say "transit" and "Beacon Line" in the same sentence someone deserves massive ridicule like they are asking for the Statue of Liberty. It's just NOT that far-fetched DC, it really isn't, and it make sme wonder about your allegiances here.


A concession from the M.T.A., on the Beacon Line, can be done in such a way that does not make their precious T.O.D. a billion dollar a day loser, which seems to be your attitude.




"Methinks the lady doth protest too much"



Comment by Ben Royce on July 28, 2011 at 8:24pm

So then how do we get the M.T.A. to open the line? We need leverage.


Comment by Andy Brown on July 28, 2011 at 8:19pm

If you have seen the Beacon Free Press today, you would have read the article that One East Main now has a develop plan in place for housing and commercial space.  One that was tailored back significantly from the one that was originally proposed years back.  That area would have never have worked for the MTA for lots of reasons, some of which DC has stated.  The MTA wants to profit from land it owns.  They would never restore a rail line and buy land to build a small development that would never recoup the costs. 

Comment by Ben Royce on July 28, 2011 at 6:41pm

The purchase of the new line, called the Maybrook, is Metro-North's first acquisition since the railroad was established in 1983. While there are no immediate plans to develop the property, Donald N. Nelson, president of Metro-North, said that it would eventually become an important part of Metro-North's service.

"This is a rare opportunity to preserve for the public the possibility of east-west train travel in New York's outer suburbs," Mr. Nelson said. "This right of way was established more than a century ago and, if lost, would be impossible to re-create."

Mr. Nelson said it was not certain how soon the railroad could develop the new passenger service, though it might be within 10 years. But he said that had Metro-North not bought the Maybrook Line now, it would have almost certainly been sold off in small parts, a pattern seen with aging freight lines nationwide. "We are hedging against the future, knowing that if we had not secured this line, it would have ended up totally gone as a rail corridor for this region," Mr. Nelson said.


DC: I frankly do not understand your animosity. I am asking we use EXISTING TRAIN TRACKS owned by a TRANSIT AGENCY to relieve TRANSIT PROBLEMS. Do you understand? You really think this issue is on the level of castles and a space ship? Wow.


"An MTA commuter stop on Route 9 in Fishkill is a complete and total nonstarter."


Yes, if we listen to you. I don't know what financial, emotional, or whatever investments you have that give you so much animosity here, but your judgment is obviously compromised.


"The whole premise of the TOD is for MTA to make money off the land they own."


Yes, you are writing exactly what I wrote above. Did you read it before your hyperbole?


Let me say this: plenty of us in Beacon don't want the T.O.D. on the waterfront. I was for it at first, just to get movement on the Beacon Line. Now I see alternatives to get the Beacon Line in place. So: no T.O.D. on the waterfront. You're going to find that sympathy all over Beacon. How are you going to deal with that skepticism sir? Like you've behaved in this thread?


Is you response to browbeat and belittle us DC? It is going to take more than your ridicule to reverse the animosity in Beacon to our waterfront being turned into a tool against intelligent growth on Main Street and making our waterfront a grotesque... all for the service of the M.T.A.'s poorly managed finances? This is what you want? I don't know what your allegiances are, but they are clearly not with Beacon's interests first and foremost.


We want Main Street linked up. We are working with what the M.T.A. wants. So let's deal. Gee! Look: there's TRAIN TRACKS, owned by THE TRANSIT AGENCY that can have a train on them to East Main, 10 minutes from RIGHT NOW.


Ohhhh... but of course, such a suggestion is on the order of building the Eiffel Tower on Mt. Beacon. pfffffffffft


Comment by Ben Royce on July 28, 2011 at 5:13pm

IF the get a rail stop up on route 9, and a parking lot, that takes pressure off 9D: it's more convenient, and less time, for commuters to assemble there than in Beacon. AND visitors from the city can get into Beacon, East Main, without using a car.


that's not diversion, that's a solution. that's not tangential, that's the heart of the problem, solved


As for cost/ benefit: yes, you are 100% correct to talk about costs. But it's just not THAT expensive, and within the realm of possibility, especially if we USE the T.O.D., in whatever form, to wrangle them to make some sort of movement here, ANYTHING.


"You want want want but you have nothing to offer in return"


There is a lot of resistance to a T.O.D. on the water in Beacon.


For good reason.


So let's get a T.O.D.: get the M.T.A. profiting, but at East Main, instead.


i'm offering something that works for the M.T.A., AND Beacon.


T.O.D. at the waterfront only works for the M.T.A., not Beacon


Got it?



Comment by Ben Royce on July 28, 2011 at 4:19pm



Running a train to East Main: you make it sound like the NASA moon program.


The cost for running a train to East Main? They can do that RIGHT NOW, at this very moment: the train can pull into Beacon Station, the conductor can pull a lever, do a reverse maneuver, and be at East Main in 10 minutes.


They can do that, 10 minutes, from right now.


Now do you want to talk to me about costs realistically?


DC: I'm not interested in winning an argument, I'm interested in making something work here. And frankly you seem to have a lot animosity here that I don't understand.


You seem like you are invested in making something work at West Main. OK, that's fine. I want the Beacon Line back up and functional, and I see an opportunity here to wrangle the M.T.A.


Why don't you try working with the idea of possibly using the Beacon Line rather than seeing using the Beacon Line as an enemy of whatever time energy or thought you have invested in West Main?


Comment by Ben Royce on July 28, 2011 at 3:16pm

#1: of course the tracks are going to need work to come up to regular use, nobody thinks they don't. My point is to counter this image of the tracks as completely useless and unsalvageable. They need a modest amount of work, not a complete rebuild.


#2: "When I pointed out that the spur line would serve commuters that already travel to Beacon, you seemed to take this as a point in FAVOR of building the line. And it is - for us. But not for MTA."


Yes! Absolutely. So why are you taking the M.T.A.s side?


I'm stumping for Beacon, who are you stumping for?


Use the M.T.A.'s desire to build a T.O.D. as a carrot and a stick to get the M.T.A. to do something they don't naturally want to do. Absolutely. That's the whole point!


They want to play ball with us? OK: do something with your property, rather than letting it lie fallow. That's the whole point of this entire post. We, the city, will structure any deal made such that the M.T.A. still is financially incentivized to make some movement here.


What is the point of a T.O.D.? So the M.T.A. can make money. You can't imagine that something involving moving the T.O.D., or just running a dinky car, ANYTHING, to East Main isn't something they would even consider to get the larger deal in place?


2 other points you seem to miss:


1. Southern Dutchess is rapidly growing.

2. The New Canaan Branch:


This is a dinky spur with similar ridership the Beacon Line would experience. Someone apparently thinks that's worthwhile. Why not the Beacon Line?


"In fact it's possible that such a short extension, running on only a single track, and requiring a transfer to the main line during peak hours anyway, might not be able to break even under any circumstances."


Parking at Route 9 and riding from Fishkill straight into Grand Central (with a reverse Maneuver at Beacon Station, a natural stop to pick up more passengers anyway) doesn't sound attractive to you? Does the Ferry from Newburgh sound attractive to you? Well people use that.


I think you are representing some inertia here. You believe in the potential, I'm glad. But I don't think you can see yet that we are reaching a tipping point where we can actually make this work. Try to see that the benefits for the M.T.A. can be structured by the city to get them to do something, ANYTHING.


Comment by Ben Royce on July 28, 2011 at 12:51pm

Steve: I do the same circuit, although the tracks are no fun to run on so I do the Madam Brett trails, to the cinder path along the main MetroNorth tracks, then loop up over Dennings Avenue Bridge to Dennings Point.


I've only walked over the Beacon Line track bridge once, I didn't see anything as awful as you describe, but I'll go back and take another look. I lurk on message boards railroad engineers use to get information about the Beacon Line, and they are loathe to use the Beacon Line currently because they put chain link fencing too close to the tracks near the Klara Sauer trail: the engineers consider that a safety hazard (no way to avoid getting smooshed between the fence and the train if you are stuck on one side). And they complain that there are bridges in Brewster that are failing, but they never complained about the bridge over the Metro North tracks.


On a side note: you walk over that bridge? Doesn't that scare the bejesus out of you looking through the big gaps between the timbers at the Amtrak trains going under your feet at 70 mph? LOL


Comment by Steve Knowles on July 28, 2011 at 11:51am
I run on the spur line tracks between the Madam Brett park and Dennings Point fairly often.  Although the tracks appear to be in reasonable shape (quite a few rotten cross timbers; but since they are on the ground, probably not much of an issue).  However, the bridge over the Metro North line has many, many, severely rotten timbers. (so much wood is completely missing from some timbers, I'm amazed it's still holding the tracks)  I'm surprised to hear that trains have crossed that bridge!  I'm no railroad bridge expert, but I believe, based on appearance, that the bridge would not pass some DOT inspection for railroad use.
Comment by Ben Royce on July 28, 2011 at 8:37am



In the immortal words of Daniel Patrick Moynihan: "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts."


The line is fine, the bridges are fine. They regularly send diesel engines on it up to Stormville for their M.T.A. police training facility (trains for a dog training facility in Stormville... but not access at East Main). When we had those terrible rains this March this year that wiped out the Danbury Branch, they moved heavy diesel equipment equipment from Danbury on the Beacon Line to get it south. They had a diesel excursion just for fun run in 2004. M.T.A. repair crews regularly service and inspect the tracks, removing fallen trees, etc. Look on Google or Youtube, search "Beacon Line Trip" or "Maybrook Line Trip" (different name for same tracks).


The point is: the rails are fine, for heavy diesel equipment. You wouldn't even have to worry about road signal upgrades, to get to East Main: Churchill Street is the first road crossing. To get to Fishkill you would need road signal upgrades. That's it.


You say:

"They are trying to increase ridership at the Beacon station and clearly do not believe they have reached capacity there. Many of their riders commute to the Beacon station from areas that would be served by the spur."


Right. Exactly my point. Then you also bemoan more cars on the road. So why do you not see the Beacon Line spur as a solution to too many cars, never mind access to East Main?


"There are no infrastructure changes we can make that will change the fact that 84 and 9D feed into the train station. We have to find some other creative ways of mitigating that issue."


Exactly!: The Beacon Line. That' the creative way of mitigating the issue. It's not even an infrastructure change: it's fully functional rails, already owned by a transit agency.


Commuters can park at a parking lot along Route 9 in Fishkill, and take direct trains into Grand Central that just do a reverse maneuver at Beacon Station. It's a lot more convenient for commuters, and that's how you relieve car pressure on Route 9D. Factor in commuting time, traffic, dashing across the parking lot: it would even be a time saver. Plenty take the ferry in Newburgh rather than drive across the bridge, right? Think of the Beacon Line as a "land ferry" if that will convince you of the feasibility here.


So I am glad that we agree on what the problems are here, in rapidly growing South Dutchess. But I don't understand why you don't see the Beacon Line as a solution? The T.O.D., for me, is just a carrot: how to engage the M.T.A. into getting them to do something, anything, with these tracks they already own.


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