Nov. 23, 2015 By Christian Murray
The MTA is reneging on its promise to put up noise mitigating plants next to the railroad tracks on Barnett Avenue, according to community leaders.
Two MTA representatives spoke to members of Community Board 2’s Land Use committee Wednesday and said that the plants were no longer part of East Side Access project.
Eric Zaretsky, director of community outreach for the MTA East Side Access Project, said that once the retaining walls were built there was nowhere for any plantings to be rooted.
“There is no soil, it’s all rock,” Zaretsky said. “There’s no irrigation… and there is no budget to maintain it.”
Lisa Deller, chair of the Land Use Committee, said that there are constant complaints about noise stemming from the railway line and that this was promised when the MTA took on the task to build the $10 billion East Side Access, which will connect LIRR riders to Grand Central.
“It’s offensive,” Deller said, adding that the MTA had made this one “small concession” to the community.
Joe Conley, who sits on the committee, described it as a “betrayal to the community.”
“We asked for sound barriers to be put in [as part of East Side Access],” Conley said. “The LIRR came back and said it couldn’t put them in and the compromise was the plantings.”
Deller said that there is space between retaining walls and garages on Barnett for the landscaping. She argued that it was hard to believe with a budget of more than $10 billion the MTA could not make this happen.
Despite his earlier comment, Zaretsky responded that the budget is not the issue. He said that MTA experts said that it was impossible to grow plants there.
Patrick O’Brien, chairman of Community Board 2, said that the community was promised noise mitigation and if the MTA is no longer able to put up plants it should find some other mechanism to muffle the sound.
He asked Zaretsky to report back to the board in two weeks.
Zaretsky assured the board that he would report back to them after Thanksgiving.