Keep an eye on Brookhaven Rail Terminal 

Editorial - Long Island Advance 26 January 2012 

We started our Brookhaven Rail Terminal story with a news item, that they had closed on adjacent land. Then the story got more involved. There was a rumor of a $20 million offer pitched by them last year for a Legacy Village parcel. Deputy Executive Jon Schneider said that didn’t happen. Then we started going over documents. There were 2007 news accounts about how their company clear-cut 18 acres of land off Sills Road and the Long Island Expressway without going through a town site plan or environmental scrutiny. DEC Regional Director Peter Scully got involved and stopped the construction. Then the town began issuing tickets. There were legal documents left and right.

The Surface Transportation Board sent us it’s Dec.20, 2007 decision regarding U.S. Rail Corporation and Sills Road Realty’s petition seeking the board’s cease and desist order issued on Oct. 12, 2007. Surface Transportation denied it back then. Suffolk & Southern Railroad LLC, a non-carrier, was one of the entities involved with U. S. Rail Road LLC, who filed a verified notice of exemption to lease from Sills Road Realty LLC, also a non-carrier, 11,000 feet of track and to operate over it. Suffolk said the track was currently being constructed by Sills on a 28-acre parcel of land in Yaphank.

In a decision served on June 1, 2007, Suffolk’s notice of exemption was found to be incomplete and Suffolk & Southern Railroad was directed to file supplemental information describing the construction, because the track appeared to be a line of railroad subject to the board’s licensing authority, based on Suffolk’s stated intention to provide for-hire service over it. On June 15, 2007, Suffolk & Southern Railroad withdrew its notice of exemption. There was a legal tug-and-pull between the town and these entities, and eventually Brookhaven Rail Terminal emerged with its parties after getting their legal act together and coming under federal jurisdiction, and they opened.

But here is the issue: the initial Dec. 20, 2007 STP decision states the petitioners had not justified their argument that no board authority, or National Environmental Protection Act review, was required. The facility is there now. The town fought them legally and then had to back off after BRT got its federal status, and was able to get BRT to agree to some mitigations and replant 33 acres. The town received $1 million and BRT is now expanding. While we don’t agree with how they went about it, the rail terminal will reduce trucks on the road spouting emissions, an environmental advantage BRT is touting.

But what about the entire environmental picture? Parcels are up for sale on the nearby Legacy Village property and there is a Carmans River Watershed Protection Plan underway. A lot of good efforts have been put into this plan but we fear that with deals like this, it will become a joke.