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'We don't deserve this trash': Buffalo community members join lawmakers to call on Ohio railroad company to clean up track in Old First Ward

Buffalo's Old First Ward.jpg
Posted at 6:01 PM, Mar 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-21 13:59:14-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Neighbors, business owners and lawmakers have called on an Ohio-based railroad company to clean up a chunk of old tracks.

The railroad spur extends to a full length of Republic Street, in Buffalo.

This area lies between Louisiana Street and Hamburg Street.

The tracks have been unused for years and members of the community are calling on CSX Railroad, to do its part to not only clean it up, but to keep the Old First Ward Community and its surroundings safe.

"I'm a resident of the First Ward. A lifelong resident of the first ward and this has always been a problem," Valley Community Center executive director, Peg Overdorf said.

As Buffalo's boom continues, a long-standing eye-sore is now in the spotlight.

"It's nice that new developments are coming but this is something that people who currently live here deserve. We don't deserve this trash, we don't deserve this hazard and it's a shame that CSX hasn't done anything sooner," Underground Coffee co-owner, Sara Heidinger said.

The location in question is the long abandoned rail-road tracks, along Republic Street, in South Buffalo.

Community members like Overdorf, stress it is also hazardous and a liability.

"Patrick [Shamrock Run] had a run a few weeks ago, that was treacherous. Not only should CSX fix that, but they too should fix all their street crossings as well," Overdorf said.

"This neighborhood is cut in half, by this blighted stretch, of unused rail that welcomes vermin, quite frankly, that puts our kid's safety at risk and that cuts off our neighbors from each other," New York State Senator Tim Kennedy said.

State Sen. Kennedy wants a new green space for residents, but shared it can only come to fruition if the owner of the tracks CSX Railroad works with the community.

"It's our understanding that railroads like CSX are typically unwilling to sell their property. That's their prerogative, but in the short term as we are making sure that the Old First Ward has the resources and the voice of the community behind them," State Sen. Kennedy said.

Erie County Legislature Howard Johnson said, "You got a brewery here. A Gene McCarthy's there, Underground Coffee there. The community shouldn't have to look at this. This should be something that is a first priority for CSX to clean up."

This call to action by the City, comes just one day before thousands of Western New Yorkers plan to take part in a St. Patrick's Day Parade, Saturday.

NOTE: 7 News's Pheben Kassahun reached out to CSX Friday morning for a statement and/or interview about the matter. As of news time, the station has not heard back from the railroad company.

NOTE: A CSX spokesperson released a statement the following Monday:

“Thank you for bringing the community concerns to our attention. CSX strives to be a good neighbor in the communities where we operate and we have a history of working collaboratively with the City of Buffalo. We will evaluate the property this week to determine what additional action is needed. Although the property is no longer an active rail yard, we remind the public that this is private property and any unauthorized activity is considered trespassing. CSX maintains an open line of communication with elected officials and will consider any proposals submitted to our office.”