MTA Sneaking in Big New Beacon Parking Lot
Under Disaster Relief Ruse?

The MTA is installing 94 new parking spots at the Beacon waterfront.

Although MetroNorth apparently told the City of Beacon the spots would be temporary, the photograph above clearly shows large sonotube bases being prepared for full size “temporary” lighting. The “temporary” asphalt is scheduled to be put down some time next week.

This swift installation raises some questions, for both the MTA and the City of Beacon:

  1. Where are the funds coming from? The MTA is broke, and its line item budget outline for Beacon makes no mention of parking expansion, only “parking renewal,” which includes ”resurfacing, restriping, bringing facilities up to current ADA
    standards, implementing drainage improvements, improving and replacing lighting,
    fencing and guard rails, upgrading and adding revenue collection devices, shelters,
    signage, emergency communications, landscaping and security enhancements.”

    . Are they using disaster relief funds earmarked for alleviating the situation on the Port Jervis line after tropical storm Irene washed out 7 miles of track? If so, is a parking lot an hour drive away a good solution to the problem?

  2. The City Council, listening to the citizens of Beacon, recently rejected a waterfront rezoning plan being pushed by the MTA. One of the biggest issues revolved around traffic and parking–we don’t want to be a giant parking lot for Orange County commuters, and the ever-increasing traffic on 9-D is changing the nature of the City. For a quasi-governmental agency that works for the people, it seems rude at best to push this through under the guise of an “emergency,” while ignoring the recently expressed sentiments of the City and its citizens.
  3. Small farms across the river are going bankcrupt after Irene washed away their crops, and they are not getting relief. Did the MTA get disaster relief funds to build 94 “temporary” parking spaces?
  4. It’s ironic that the response to water damage is to build more surface parking. The City of Beacon already has a severe storm runoff issue. The station itself was under several feet of water several times this summer. The State has issued stringent new stormwater requirements, including this one: Construction activities disturbing one or more acres of soil must be authorized under the General Permit for Stormwater Discharges from Construction Activities. Most parking lot designs allow for approximately 80 cars per acre, exlusive of any landscaping. Does this parking lot somehow slip under the qualifying factors for review? If so, the new law is definitely flawed.
  5. The City of Beacon has again dropped the ball in its dealings with the MTA. Why was nothing done other than a brief announcement at a City Council meeting about “temporary” parking (which nobody then or now believes will be temporary)? After hearing from concerned citizens regularly over the past two years about the traffic and parking issues at the waterfront, how could the City Council not fathom that this needed to be fought in every way possible? Why did none of them stand up and let us know what was going on by writing a letter to the local paper, or trying to get an injuction of some kind?

The 1200 spaces the MTA has added in the last few years have already changed the nature of the City. There are other ways to get people to the train station.

7 Responses to MTA Sneaking in Big New Beacon Parking Lot
Under Disaster Relief Ruse?
  1. Josh Lenaburg
    October 14, 2011 | 1:24 am

    Once again, as a citizen of Beacon (and in fact the United States), I am left to wonder about why, in a democratic society, I am not represented.

  2. Ben Royce
    October 14, 2011 | 10:46 am

    Beacon’s waterfront will become an asphalt moonscape like Croton Harmon for the benefit of Orange County, and Route 9D will become a spur of i84.

    That’s the future if we don’t fight this.

    We are going to get the Beacon Line revived (already on the MTA 20 year plan… make it a 5 year plan). We are going to get use of the Ferry more attractive for drivers from the West. And we are going to jackhammer the asphalt and DECREASE the parking capacity at Beacon.

    City, County, and State level representatives will know this is important to the people who elected them. The MTA is not an untouchable unaccountable mysterious government entity like the NSA or the CIA: it is ostensibly a public service organization and we, the public, are going to make it serve us.

  3. Tom Bregman
    October 14, 2011 | 1:11 pm

    If one spends even a little time trying to “work” with the MTA on planning around proposed projects you quickly learn that their organizational culture sees citizens as a nusiance and accountability as an anathema.

    This may be a case of the MTA running over a Beacon City Council that is just not up to the task of standing up for community needs.

    I ask people to raise this issue at the upcoming Beacon Candidates Forum scheduled for October 19th (7pm) at Beacon High School.

    You can email your questions in advance to:

    beaconcandidatesforum@gmail.com

  4. Zach
    October 18, 2011 | 12:10 pm

    Mark, do you know if the City or MTA have commented on your question #1b?

    • admin
      October 18, 2011 | 1:51 pm

      From the MTA’s own “newsroom:”

      An engineering assessment released Monday calls for massive repairs and 150,000 tons of stone to restore Port Jervis Line train service by the end of the year.

      The damage report, presented at the MTA Metro-North Railroad committee meeting, estimated the repair bill at $50 million.

      Within two days of the August 28 storm, Metro-North had an alternate bus service in place. On September 19, train service was restored between Port Jervis and Harriman, with bus service provided from Harriman to Ramsey/Route 17. This temporary service plan will remain in effect during the track reconstruction. In all, busing is expected to cost about $10 million over two years.

      Metro-North is working with the MTA to identify the necessary funds, including maximum reimbursement from FEMA and insurance.

      Now, since there is no line item for parking expansion at the Beacon station, and the MTA contacted the City of Beacon to let them know a parking lot would be going in supposedly for temporary use by Port Jervis customers, it’s entirely possible the MTA will try to claim emergency funds and/or insurance monies for the cost of this parking lot, which some estimates put at about one million dollars.

      Yet the MTA has already stated that service is now 65%, and full service is expected by the end of this year. Buses provide Port Jervis line commuters rides to the Newburg-Beacon Ferry and the Newburgh Beacon Express bus, which they can use free of charge. It makes no sense to build a parking lot for people to drive an hour to in a single occupancy vehicle. The immediate addition of almost 200 new car trips per day on 9D will now be permanent.

  5. Jim Heron
    October 18, 2011 | 12:42 pm

    The MTA has again thumbed its nose at the residents of Beacon. It is true that the City has no legal recourse whatsover from stopping them from building on their own property, and neither mp “p;otocal party” deserves blame as all are represented on Council and there is no legal grounds for them to do so. But 90 more spaces or so I am told, needs some respose.
    This is really a matter for citizens (lots of us) to unite and embarrass Metro North by protesting with signs and physical presence, perhaps to even interrupt service by our presence, so the publicity becomes so negative that somewhere up the twisted line to the top of the MTA they get the point that we will not be passively walked on.
    I need not tell you the mess they will add to 9D during rush hours … I need not tell you the wear and tear on our cities roads … I need not tell you that they give nothing to the Beacon community because most of them live in Orange County.
    I haven’t been in a good old fashioned protest since the Civil Rights movement in the 60′s … maybe its time to start nice with signs and move further if they do not respond. I may be 70, but I’m feisty, and like you tired of being pushed around by big business. Fr. Jim Heron

  6. admin
    October 18, 2011 | 2:20 pm

    I don’t have a problem with people from Orange County coming to the Beacon station–that’s what public transit is supposed to do. But we’ve provided more than enough of our waterfront for parking, more than enough of our roadways for traffic. It’s past time to implement ways to get people to the station other than by means of a single driver in an automobile.

    And while the immediate issues may be local livabilty such as traffic congestion, pollution, etc., there are also longer term issues, including storm water runoff and climate change. We’ve now lost one of the last remaining non-paved surfaces in that area to help with these issues. There will be more coverage coming soon.

    The arrogance of the MTA/MetroNorth administration is astonishing in light of the City only this year turning down an MTA-driven waterfront rezoning proposal in large measure because of traffic and parking concerns. With this lot, backward-thinking officials have now successfully shoved 25% of their 400 desired new spaces down our throats. The hypocrisy of the MTA is catastrophic, and Hudson Valley Green will take no pleasure in highlighting some if it in future posts. Please stay tuned!

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