06.20.16

WITH MOSQUITO-BORNE DISEASES INCREASING, SCHUMER SAYS CSX HAS FAILED TO RESPOND TO HOMEOWNERS’ PLEAS TO ALLOW CITY OF ROCHESTER TO CLEANUP SWAMPY, MOSQUITO-BREEDING HAVEN RAIL PROPERTY BEHIND HOMES IN CHARLOTTE NEIGHBORHOOD; URGES CSX TO IMMEDIATELY ALLOW CITY TO PROCEED WITH CLEAN-UP BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE

Senator Says Residents Have Tried for Years to Get CSX to Help Fix Pooling Water In & Around CSX Tracks; Now Pooling is A Mosquito-Breeding Haven 

City of Rochester Is Willing To Do The Work To Clean Up Area, But Needs CSX Approval & Cooperation to Access Property In Order to Start

Schumer: CSX Needs To Help Swat Mosquitoes Not Protect Them 

With mosquito-borne diseases in New York State on the rise, including cases in Upstate New York, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today appeared in Rochester to urge CSX to immediately help clean up a swampy, mosquito-breeding property behind homes in Charlotte. Schumer said standing water is public enemy #1 in the fight against mosquito-borne disease, and was joined by homeowners and City of Rochester officials.

“With mosquito season in full swing, the people of Rochester are rightfully concerned about the threat posed by the stagnant water pools along CSX’s tracks, which could be a breeding ground for mosquito-borne illness. We need to take care of this public health risk before potentially diseased mosquitoes have the chance to breed right here in Rochesterians’ backyards,” said Schumer. “The City of Rochester already has a plan in place and is willing to do the work to fix this problem – but we need CSX’s cooperation right away. CSX has been responsive to the concerns of New Yorkers in the past, so I am asking them once again to step up to the plate and be the responsible corporate citizen and give the City of Rochester the permission it needs to move forward with this project.”

Schumer explained that, for years, the residents of Boulevard Parkway, located in the neighborhood of Charlotte within the City of Rochester, have tried to get CSX Railroad to mitigate the pooling water in and around its rail track’s right-of-way section. Schumer said these water pools, which are located right behind residential homes in the Boulevard Parkway neighborhood, are a result of the debris, brush, tree limbs and other materials that have accumulated in the gully area along the CSX tracks blocking a drain in-take, and preventing the water from flowing naturally and dissipating from the area.  Instead the water pools and stagnates, creating a hazardous mosquito-breeding area.

Schumer said Boulevard Parkway homeowners in the area have reported that the debris have gone unaddressed for months, and even years. As a result, the problem has only gotten worse. While residents have tried to contact CSX, their requests have not yet gotten CSX to act. Schumer said this has resulted in some homeowners resorting to hiring companies to spray their properties every few weeks during the summer to try and control mosquitoes, while others have simply avoided going outside. Schumer said this is unacceptable, as residents should be able to enjoy their own backyards in the summer months. According to the NY State Department of Health, members of the public can protect themselves from creating mosquito-breeding areas by eliminating standing water in their yards.

Schumer said the fact that diseases like West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) have been found in mosquitoes in the Rochester region, means it is especially important these stagnant water pools be addressed as soon as possible. In order to clean up these water pools and rid this neighborhood of a potentially hazardous mosquito breading ground, the City of Rochester has said it is prepared to conduct the necessary work that would remove the debris along the gully, as well as unclog a drain in-take that is making the pooling worse. However, Schumer explained that the City is required to get CSX’s permission before it can gain access to the right-of-way track.

Therefore, Schumer is urging CSX to work swiftly and cooperatively with the City of Rochester to support the successful completion of this work. In addition, Schumer said it is imperative that, with the start of the summer months, CSX take proactive measures in the future when maintaining the railroad embankment to safeguard against stone or other debris from sliding down into the gully.

According to a 2015 report from the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, the mosquitoes that carry West Nile are considered endemic now in New York State. According to the report, there have been 643 cases of West Nile in New York, and 47 deaths as a result of the virus. In Monroe County there have been nine cases diagnosed in the past 15 years. A separate report from the Democrat & Chronicle cited the fact that EEE, a rare but dangerous mosquito-borne infection, has popped up in the Rochester region the last two summers.

Schumer was joined by Rochester City Councilwoman Molly Clifford, City of Rochester Commissioner of Environmental Services Norman Jones, and Boulevard Parkway residents John Coleman, Nancy Owens, Cory Tylenda, and Chris Gold.

“City Environmental Services’ crews are ready to help residents in this Charlotte neighborhood by cleaning away the debris that is creating pools of stagnant water in their backyards,” said Rochester Mayor Lovely A. Warren. “But we cannot begin the work necessary to fix this situation without the cooperation of CSX to access the site to stage equipment and begin the work that needs to be done. Senator Chuck Schumer is always eager to partner with us to assist residents no matter how large or small the issue and I want to thank Senator Schumer for his assistance to help move forward with this project.”

Rochester City Councilman Molly Clifford said, “I want to thank Senator Schumer for his efforts to help us resolve this problem, which has been plaguing the residents of Boulevard Parkway for the last few years. It is frustrating to have our calls for help ignored, but thanks to Senator Schumer, I am optimistic that we will be able to take care of this issue once and for all!”

“The mosquitos brought by the stagnant water along the railroad tracks and are a concern for my family’s health and makes it unbearable to spend time outside during the summer. Our neighborhood needs CSX to grant clearance so that the City of Rochester can clear out the debris,” said Boulevard Parkway resident John Coleman.

A copy of Schumer’s letter to CSX appears below:

Dear Mr. Ward:

I write to bring your swift attention to repeated concerns by residents in the Boulevard Parkway neighborhood in the City of Rochester about stagnant pooling water in and around the CSX rail right-of-way‎ that is creating a hazardous mosquito-breeding area. These residents cite how debris, brush, tree limbs, and other material has accumulated in the gully area along the CSX right-of-way embankment which is impeding the natural flow of water to dissipate from the area.  In response to these concerns, the City of Rochester is now prepared to conduct work to remove this debris along the gully, unclog a drain in-take, and associated work but first requires CSX's permission and cooperation to access and stage its equipment in the CSX right-of-way during the duration of the cleanup. It's incumbent that CSX work swiftly and cooperatively to support the successful completion of this work. 

Homeowners in this area report that the debris has gone unaddressed for months and even years and during that time the problem has gotten worse. As a result in recent years some homeowners have resorted to hiring companies to spray their properties every few weeks during the summer to try and control mosquitos while others avoid going outside. 

Now with the start of the summer and in light of diseases like West Nile Virus which is now found in mosquitos in Monroe County, the City of Rochester will be contacting CSX to schedule this work.  In advance, I ask that you take steps to quickly accommodate the City of Rochester’s request and support the completion of their work.  Lastly, I ask that CSX take proactive measures in the future when maintaining the railroad embankment to safeguard against stone or other debris from sliding down into the gully.  Thank you for your attention to these issues. 

Sincerely,

Charles E. Schumer

United States Senator

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