Poughkeepsie… “Sending out inaccurate information to the press and inserting themselves into a County legal process while never communicating with county government could now put our current court petition process to obtain abandoned CSX property through condemnation at risk,” said Dutchess County Executive William R. Steinhaus in response to a news release issued by United States Senator Charles Schumer. The property acquisition is intended to provide direct access to the Walkway Over the Hudson pedestrian bridge at Washington Street.
“Had Senator Schumer chosen to pick up the phone to call anyone at the county level about this legal process, we would have been happy to let him know the land transfer process is well under way,” said Steinhaus. “When the county was asked to help the Walkway be successful we responded enthusiastically and assembled a team of nine of the county’s top professionals, planners, engineers, department heads, legal and Executive office staff to acquire the property they needed to ensure the Walkway access at the eastern corridor of the bridge – plus the county hired outside specialized legal counsel and appraisers at a considerable expense – a legal course is in place and scheduled for court action in just fifteen days – on June 19. This has been a full court press by the county to help the Walkway.”
The news release issued by Senator Schumer’s office included wrong information and inaccurate characterizations:
The release stated the Senator urged CSX CEO Michael Ward to designate a temporary easement on the eastern side of the Walkway bridge, otherwise construction could not be completed. In fact, the Walkway Over the Hudson entered into a land lease in November 2008 for the construction of the bridge. The lease “continues in effect unless and until terminated by thirty (30) days written notice by registered or certified mail from either party.” As of a May 18th update meeting with Walkway representatives, the land lease was still in effect and construction has continued on the project.
The release headline stated “Breakdown in Negotiations between Dutchess County and Rail Company Threaten Marquee Event”. There has been no “breakdown” and the condemnation procedure has been proceeding smoothly and on schedule. CSX has not filed objections to the County’s petition for eminent domain. The next step in the proceedings is a June 19th court date.
County officials at multiple levels have been in continuous communication with our partners at the Walkway Over the Hudson for months, keeping them up-to-date on how the condemnation process has been going. As recently as Monday, Walkway officials provided the County with proposed parking lot plans which will be located on the County acquired CSX property.
“We have to hope the Senator’s “helpful” involvement will not throw a wrench in the process and cause unnecessary delays. A simple phone call to the County would have avoided creating this risk. I hope this will not disturb or delay our legal proceedings.”