Saratoga County

Neighbors of idling Ballston trains want to install fence

Residents of the Kaleen Manor development in Ballston Spa are proposing that a 1,000-foot fence be b

Residents of the Kaleen Manor development in Ballston Spa are proposing that a 1,000-foot fence be built in the town of Ballston to stop nearby freight trains from idling for hours on end.

Located in the village, the Kaleen Manor development is close — in some cases less than 100 feet — from an area used for staging by Canadian Pacific freight trains. Since residents began moving into the development in 2006, the village has received complaints about noise, but now residents say the problems have been exacerbated by trains idling for hours and, in extreme cases, days.

“Our homes, windows and walls are vibrating from the unbearable diesel idling noise,” wrote Denis Grimard on Sunday in an email to CP. “The locomotives are still idling … a full 10 hours after this train arrived.”

Grimard, who lives in the development, said he understood he would have to endure the noise from passing trains when he moved in, but didn’t expect the constant idling.

In September, Grimard said, a train idled for six days. He said the compressors would come on more than once a minute and make a loud “boom boom boom boom.”

“Folks went out of their house,” he said. “We slept in a different room in our house.”

Grimard and neighbor Michael Daly brought the issue to the Ballston Town Board meeting on Tuesday night, where they laid out the problem and their solution.

“They leave the train with the engine running,” Daly said Tuesday. “Then they get into a taxi … [to go to a] dwelling place where they go and sleep for eight hours, quietly.”

He said the train conductor and locomotive engineer leave via a taxi waiting for them on Oak Street, which they reach by crossing town of Ballston property. In order to stop this practice, residents want to erect a 1,000-foot fence that would run parallel to the road and essentially trap the train between a fence and private property. In order to reach Oak Street, train staff would have to walk a minimum of hundreds of feet. Residents believe that would deter them from idling there.

The projected cost of the fence would be about $18,000, with the development’s builders offering to pay 30 percent of the cost, according to Daly and Grimard.

“The sound barrier would be great,” Daly said in regard to a proposal the village has previously deemed too expensive, “but we just want to stop them accessing [the road].”

Ballston Supervisor Patti Southworth said the town attorney would look into the logistics of the fence, both in terms of cost and whether the town owns the land for the fence. Southworth said a preliminary check with the assessor’s office suggested to her that the fence would be on CP property. For their part, the residents are confident it is town land, citing information relayed to them by town Highway Superintendent Joseph Whalen.

CP spokesman Michael LoVecchio on Wednesday said the instances of idling trains have actually decreased.

“The number of idling trains has dropped,” he said. “We changed our operational procedures.”

LoVecchio said there could have been an uptick in staging of trains in Ballston because of damage on other parts of tracks by Tropical Storm Irene.

He added that CP had been against the Kaleen Manor development when it was initially proposed and then approved by the village. While not offering to pay for sound barriers, LoVecchio said CP believed the barriers would solve the problem. “This was not a problem of CP’s creation,” he said. “But it’s something we want to work with the community on.”

Grimard said he and other residents don’t feel like CP or the village want to work on this issue. Ballston Spa Mayor John Romano could not be reached for comment.

But Grimard said he remains committed to sticking it out and says he would even contribute to pay for the fence. “I’ve invested in this and I’m not intending to take a loss because of the actions of a large corporation,” he said.

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