GREAT BARRINGTON -- A long-festering eyesore has been removed -- piece by
piece from a Housatonic neighborhood.
Workers for the Housatonic Railroad Co. spent the past two weeks demolishing several passenger cars from a siderail in the Van Deusenville section of town.
The dilapidated cars, which had been vandalized and covered with graffiti, have been sitting on the side track just off Van Deusenville Road, for about nine years.
The railroad bought the passenger cars a decade ago in anticipation of providing passenger service along its network of tracks in the area. The railroad company has 38 miles of track in Berkshire County. It also operates in northwestern Connecticut and eastern New York.
Efforts are ongoing to return passenger rail service to the Berkshires, linking the existing lines to the Metro-North line, which connects to New York City. Company President John Hanlon has said that would take several years and require an investment of roughly $225 million for track upgrades.
The administration of Gov. Deval Patrick has supported spending $131.8 million from a state transportation bond to improve the Berkshire line.
A representative for the Connecticut-based railroad company, which owned the cars, could not be reached for comment on the demolition.
The cars had been ordered removed by the Great Barrington Board of Selectmen in 2006 following the arrest of a number of individuals for vandalizing the cars.
Then-town manager Burke E. LaClair estimated the cars had been on the side track for about a year prior to the incident.
In addition to the graffiti that adorned the six passenger cars, doors and windows were smashed and knocked out. The cars were in such poor shape that they had to be demolished and could not be towed out.
Police Chief William R. Walsh told the Selectmen at the time that he estimated the damage to be more than $2,000.
A handful of neighbors in the Van Deusenville section of town alerted The Eagle.
"They’ve been working down there for a few weeks now," said Bill Arienti of North Plain Road. "There’s a pretty big pile of junk down there."
Town administrator Jennifer Tabakin said her office had not officially been notified of the activity.
In 2006, a railroad company official defended the practice of storing the cars on the Van Deusenville tracks, pointing out that his organization would explore the possibility of rotating the cars onto other tracks.
That never happened, and the Selectmen over the years have heard from residents in Van Deusenville who were upset by the graffiti-covered units.
To reach Derek Gentile:
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