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Wayne Post
  • Arcadia Supervisor confident he can bring a train station to Newark

  • With the shift of Lyons train station funds to another rail project, Supervisor Dick Colacino is hoping to bring Amtrak to a stop in Arcadia.

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  • With the shift of Lyons train station funds to another rail project, Supervisor Dick Colacino is hoping to bring Amtrak to a stop in Arcadia.
    It was 22 years ago this month that the village of Lyons began working toward establishing a passenger rail station there with little success. Colacino first heard of the project from Mike Santelli, the former owner of Trombino’s restaurant, who is said to have started the concept and was lobbying for donations from area businesses, Colacino recalled. As a child, Colacino said he’d always loved trains and tinkering with the electrical crossings and workings. He learned a lot from his first train set and never lost that passion. So when Santelli made a pitch to bring a train station to Wayne County, Colacino was pleased to make a donation.
    For the next 18 years, Colacino said whenever he stopped into Trombino’s in Lyons, he would ask Santelli about the project’s progress. The answer was always the same: CSX was holding things up.
    Then three years ago, Colacino made his own pitch to the Board of Supervisors when he told them he was on “a parallel path.”
    “If they couldn’t get a train station in Lyons, then I would try to in Newark,” he said.
    Some members of the board saw the idea as competition, but Colacino said he saw it as practical.
    “We, as Wayne County taxpayers, pay for Amtrak, and what are we getting out of it?” he said. “I think the people of Wayne County deserve another form of transportation besides the automobile.”
    The state currently subsidizes 10 passenger trains through the county every day and “without a single stop between Rochester and Syracuse.”
    Colacino said his goal is to get the 13 million people who live east of Wayne County to come visit the area and see what the entire Finger Lakes region has to offer. Wayne County alone boasts a booming fishing and boating industry, apple farm tours, the Montezuma Wildlife Refuge, Mormon history, the birthplace of Spiritualism in Hydesville, skiing and snowmobile sports activities, the Erie Canal and its trails, several museums and bed and breakfasts. The Finger Lakes adds wine tours, auto and horse racing, a casino, four colleges, Sonnenberg Gardens, the birthplace of the women’s right movement in Seneca Falls and several hotels.
    The original Lyons project came up against many obstacles over the years, but in October of 2000, officials were handed a $1 million grant through state Sen. Michael Nozzolio. Over the next nine years, the funding would be used for various studies, preliminary schematics and track surveys, including a ridership survey in 2003 that estimated the Lyons station would generate 26,151 new trips in its first stable operating year. The survey also showed there would be over 7,000 diverted trips trips from the Rochester and Syracuse stations for a total of 33,634 riders.
    Page 2 of 2 - At the county board meeting June 19, supervisors approved a resolution to shift the remaining funds from the Lyons station to a new project. The Norfolk Southern rail line is looking to abandon an entire section of rail that runs south from the CSX mainline in Lyons to Geneva, about 3.8 miles long within the county borders, and includes a switching area for freight interchange. However, a local rail company, Finger Lakes Railway, has expressed interest in purchasing the line.
    To assist with the purchase, the county is authorizing the shift in the funding under two conditions: first, proof of a long-term agreement with CSX for use of the CSX line and, second, a commitment from Amtrak that they will stop in Lyons and Geneva. The agreement must also include two loading platforms.
    Colacino prefers the original plan for a full-fledged passenger train station in Wayne County. If not Lyons, he’ll pursue one in Newark.
    He already has a property in mind for the station and tourist businesses interested in building near it if the train station comes.
    In the coming weeks, residents will see survey ads in local papers asking if the Newark-Arcadia community thinks there is a need for a train station and if they would use it. Residents will be asked to fill out the survey and mail it to Colacino. Or email an opinion to rcolacino@newarkelectric.com and include name and address. Colacino is already handing out note pads featuring a rendering of the possible station. He has also approached Nozzolio to garner his support.
     Despite the challenges the Lyons project faced, Colacino isn’t worried about the hurdles ahead.
    “I think the obstacles I’m going to have is getting CSX to agree to allow switches to be built (for trains to pull up to the station) and getting Amtrak to stop,” he said. “I like a challenge. Anything in life that’s worthwhile isn’t easy. If the people want it, I won’t take no for an answer.”
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