The Hudson Valley Rail Trail has become a little bit cleaner with the removal of a significant amount of trash, metal, scattered debris, an old delivery box truck and even a decaying house trailer, just west of the intersection of the rail trail and the Commercial Avenue Extension.
Charley Long, of Long Day Construction Services, was contacted by Ray Costantino and Rich Rosa, members of the Highland Rotary Club, to see if he could help.
“It was kind of a joint venture between the town, the Rotary and the Hudson Valley Rail Trail,” he said. “They asked if I would help to clean out and donate my time or whatever I could do. I took a look at it and said I’ll come in and donate my time, my machine and a couple of my guys to do the clean up.” Long’s employees Austin Pullman and Adam Goldfish were part of the clean up project.
It appears that in this area of the rail trail there once was a large platform that was used to turn around the old steam engines that ran on the tracks prior to the 1940s. The turnaround was about 60 feet in diameter and has long been covered over with the passage of time.
After all of the debris is removed, Long plans to excavate around the concrete structures, “that used to hold that [turntable] platform up.”
Peter Bellizzi, President of the Hudson Valley Rail Trail Association, said getting this area cleaned up moves the development of the rail trail a step forward.
After the excavation Bellizzi will have a few trees taken down in the area of the turntable, “so we can see exactly what we have; I don’t know what I’m gonna find but its on the historic register for railroads.” He said he might have some historic renderings made that will show people what went on in this area just off of the rail trail.
“It’s been ten years plus that we’ve been working on that turntable. I want to expose what’s there and in the springtime really start working on it,” he said.
Supervisor Fred Pizzuto said at some point in the past the town became owners of the property and in the last few years discussions have taken place on how and when to clean it up. In the end Pizzuto said 4 roll offs were filled with debris that were later hauled away.
“When we’re done we will grow grass and by next year it will be very pretty,” he said. “This project benefited the town and the rail trail and now in the wintertime when you go down the trail it looks like night and day. We’re definitely moving in the right direction.”