ROSENDALE – The county Legislature, as it existed in 1979, purchased the abandoned Ulster & Delaware Railroad corridor from the bankrupt Penn Central Railroad. Railroading in this corridor was no longer a viable business, but the legislators saw other benefits to county ownership of the corridor.
In 2015, the 23 county lawmakers who represent the 180,000 or so residents and taxpayers, who are the current owner of the Ulster & Delaware corridor, researched the uses of the corridor that made the most sense — from health and welfare to economic benefits and costs — and came up with a plan that addressed the needs and wants of all the owners and stakeholders, including, but not exclusively, those of the Catskill Mountain Railroad. The 23 legislators all voted to enact the plan they came up with and the railroad, through its president, expressed satisfaction with it.
In a democracy, the legislative process determines the distribution of public resources. It is the responsibility of the county executive to turn legislation passed by our representatives into an outcome, and that is what is happening. We all get something, no one group gets exclusive use of the corridor, and the construction of the Ashokan trail is proceeding as authorized by the legislative representatives of the owners, largely with funding that doesn’t come from the county budget.
The legislators and the county executive clearly have the interest of the resident taxpayer owners of the corridor at heart. They did the right thing. Democracy worked as it’s supposed to. We all win.