Catskill Mountain Railroad offers to help Ulster County repair washed-out areas
In a March 6 letter to Brian Cunningham, acting commissioner of the county Department of Public Works, Catskill Mountain Railroad President Ernie Hunt said the company “would like to assist Ulster County DPW in any way to help in these repairs.”
He said he appointed the company’s engineer to serve as liaison to the county and asked that Cunningham “schedule a working meeting ... at the soonest practical date.” Hunt’s offer follows an announcement made by County Executive Michael Hein during a recent Ulster County Regional Chamber of Commerce breakfast that the county will begin repairing the washed out areas.
“We have a professional engineer on staff, and I will defer to him,” Sudlow said.
He said he was unaware of Hunt’s letter to Cunningham.
“If I had the letter, my first step would be to go to the county attorney because of the lawsuits that are pending,” Sudlow said.
The Catskill Mountain Railroad and the county are locked in a legal battle stemming from the county’s attempt to evict the railroad for not living up to the terms of its lease of county-owned tracks.
In 2012, Hein announced plans to turn the Ulster & Delaware line east of the Ashokan Reservoir into a pedestrian trail.
In June 2013, the county served the railroad with a notice of default, claiming the railroad failed to live up to the terms of the 25-year lease under which it is allowed to operate tourist trains on the tracks between Kingston and the Delaware County line. The railroad currently uses two sections of track: one in the Kingston-Ulster area and one between Mount Tremper and Phoenicia,
The railroad subsequently filed a lawsuit against the county to stop the eviction prior to the May 31, 2016, the expiration date of the lease, as well as “unspecified damages” it says it’s entitled to because the county made “a number of statements that are derogatory and/or untrue regarding the Catskill Mountain Railroad ... in press releases, articles and/or public meetings.”
The county, in its countersuit, is seeking $1 million in damages it says it is due as a result of the railroad’s default on the lease.
That lawsuit is pending before state Supreme Court Justice Richard Mott.