The Village of Greenport’s plan to revive a miniature railroad is back on track after securing a key approval, but some environmentalists are not on board with the planned location.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation approved the village’s permit to lay the tracks in the Moore’s Woods, a 200-acre forest.
“After three and a half years and a lot of work on everybody’s part, it’s going to become a reality.” Greenport Mayor George Hubbard Jr. said at the village’s April 22 board meeting. “That’s really exciting news for the whole community.”
The original railroad, which was called the Peconic County Miniature Railroad, was operated by Frank Field, who gave rides on Sundays and holidays on tracks he had built adjacent to his Greenport home from 1985 to 2012. The village, The Greenport Rotary and The Long Island Railroad Museum plan to move the tracks to the park near ball fields and a skate park.
“It’s such a tradition in our village,” said Richard Israel, who chairs the train committee for the Greenport Rotary. “It’s part of our heritage that Frank created, and it shouldn’t stop.”
But environmental advocates opposed the location of the mini-railroad.
“I’m here to beg for the life of this unique, beautiful ecosystem,” said John Potente of the Long Island Botanical Society.
Israel said he shared the environmentalists’ concerns, noting that the plans and layout of the track changed four times and, according to the latest design, the track would enter the woods by approximately 500 feet and require the clearing of just six trees, adjusted from the previous 100. He has been preparing to begin construction this summer, and hopes to welcome children aboard the train for rides during Halloween season.
He said, “We don’t want to lose this tradition.”