NORWICH – Can’t live with it? Can’t live without it? The New York Susquehanna & Western railroad has shifted itself and Chenango County – with the help of a controversial land agreement and late June flooding – into an awkward position between a power line and a hard place.
The future of economic development in Chenango County has come into question on two conflicting fronts with one common denominator: the NYS&W. The juxtaposition was created by an agreement the rail company made with New York Regional Interconnect Inc., a power line developer, followed by the abandonment of rail service from Chenango Forks to Sherburne due to flood damage incurred in June, which has yet to be repaired. Now it appears, after intense public backlash over the pending power line, and the need for rail service to develop future industrial projects, that there isn’t a clear distinction regarding what role the NYS&W will play. Will it be a harbinger of good or bad will, or both?
“The fact that the railroad has been vilified seems unreasonable,” said NYS&W Attorney Nathan Fenno. “We’re not investors in the power line or anything.” Since it was announced in March that the part of the power line – if approved – would be built on NYS&W right of ways, the railroad has lost a tax free agreement to operate in Oneida County and been taken to state Supreme Court by the City of Utica and Village of Sherburne. Fenno contends the agreement was made with NYRI to avoid having the land be taken later by eminent domain.