Residents of a Lackawanna neighborhood are demanding a regional railroad company remove the empty rail cars it has parked near their homes. Neighbors and elected officials alike say the rail cars are an eyesore and pose a safety hazard.
First there were parked tanker cars in this neighborhood near Ridge Road. When residents complained, the tankers were removed. However, they have been replaced by empty hopper cars.
Resident Robert Gall said their presence attracts trouble.
"Needless to say, the kids on the next street are having a ball with them, partying into the wee hours of the night, " said Gall. "So far, there's been no real problem, but one of these days, the kids are going to get hurt."
The Global Concepts Charter School is close by, as is a cemetery. Resident Diana Minger said she is tired of the excuses coming from the railroad.
"I know the railroad says that it's private property, but they're close to a school, they're close to a memorial park, actually too close," Minger said.
The residents are asking state Sen. Tim Kennedy (D-Buffalo) for help. Kennedy said he has sent a letter to the Buffalo and Pittsburgh Railroad and federal transportation regulators, arguing a residential neighborhood is not a safe location for storing rail cars.
"From here all the way to Ridge Road, backyard after backyard the sight is the same: large unsightly, potentially dangerous rail cars that are just looming over the neighborhood," said Kennedy. "No neighborhood should have to deal with the decreased quality of life, the potential safety hazards - especially as we find out, kids have been climbing through these cars and putting themselves in danger - as well as the concerns over graffiti and other crimes. All you have to do is look at these cars."
Despite the pressure from Kennedy, a spokesman for the Buffalo and Pittsburgh Railroad said storing empty rail cars on their privately owned tracks is within their rights and that the cars parked there are in full compliance with federal laws.