Political Arena

CB8 tries new tactic on Putnam plans


CSX Corp., one of the nation’s largest freight and rail companies, has been asking $10 million for a defunct section of the Putnam Line. 

But some residents have a different number in mind: zero.

Members of Community Board 8’s environment and sanitation committee drafted a resolution this month asking the rail giant to either lower their price, or give it away for free. 

It wouldn’t be the first time CSX donated land to the city, committee chair Laura Spalter said earlier this month, noting that in 2005, the Jacksonville, Florida-based company donated a section of the High Line in Manhattan for $1.

The parks department and local advocates have wanted to purchase the land to build a greenway, not dissimilar to the High Line, connecting Van Cortlandt Park to the business district along Broadway.

The resolution, which was expected to go before the full board for review on April 19 after The Press went to print, comes on the heels of some significant movement in the city’s quest to purchase the land, which stalled a decade ago.

In late February, Mayor Bill de Blasio told residents at a town hall he would try to involve himself in the negotiations between the parks departments and CSX. A week later, corporate representatives announced they would clean up the land — which has long been left to collect litter and graffiti — in preparation for a new appraisal. 

While the company has said it’s trying to receive a fair market value for the land strip, which hasn’t been used since the 1980s, the parks department only has $2 million available for its purchase. Many advocates say there isn’t much development opportunity that can be done on the land outside a park, suggesting the price CSX is demanding is too high.


Engel: Trump can’t work alone in Syria

President Donald Trump’s strike on a Syrian airbase two weeks ago came as a surprise to U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel, the ranking Democrat on the House committee on foreign affairs. 

Trump launched the strike, Engel said, only hours after representatives had broken for a two-week recess, circumventing congressional approval.

“I don’t like the fact that those people were gassed,” Engel said. “And I think the response was appropriate. But he has to tell us what his plan is.”

The morning after the bombings, House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, Engel and some other Democrats called to reopen session and discuss the attack, Engel said, but Speaker Paul Ryan apparently never responded. 

“This is another example of a president thinking he can do whatever he wants without consulting Congress,” Engel said. 

The day after the Trump administration launched 59 Tomahawk missiles on one airbase — reportedly initiated in response to the use of chemical weapons by President Bashar al-Assad against civilians — a joint session was called for a classified briefing, Engel said. 

However, because the representatives already had left for recess, Engel said only a small number of them actually appeared.