A downed fence that used to block Long Island Rail Road tracks from a dead end street in East Elmhurst poses a danger to children on the block, civic leaders say.
The fence is made of flimsy wire that buckles for a few hundred feet and is held up by a medley of metal and wooden poles of varying thickness and height.
In November 2012, a large truck knocked down a portion of the dilapidated fence, which separates the LIRR from 90th Street and 45th Avenue, Newtown Civic Association member Pascual Quinones, who lives on the block, said.
“We’ve been trying to get the LIRR to fix the fence,” Quinones, who has pictures of small children from the block playing by the tracks, said on Sunday, “but they haven’t gotten back to us.”
“Our office has followed up with calls to the LIRR but they have been completely unresponsive,” Alex Flores, spokesman for Councilman Danny Dromm (D-Jackson Heights), said in an email.
Long Island Rail Road spokesman Salvatore Arena said on Tuesday afternoon the LIRR will “be dispatching a team to the site again to determine what further repairs are necessary.”
After months of dragging their feet, Quinones said, at 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday LIRR workers examined the fence. They told him that they were leaning toward a whole new fence rather than just a fix.
Large trucks like snow plows and average drivers hit the fence on a semiregular basis, Quinones said.
“This is not the first time this section of fencing has been vandalized, nor the first time the LIRR has addressed the problem. We repaired the same section of fencing about a year ago after the community brought the situation to our attention. So, we will again,” Arena said.
“They need to fix the whole thing. Not just patch work,” Quinones said. “This fence has seen its days.”
Before the patch job a couple months ago the railroad sprayed a defoliating chemical that killed the bushes lining the fence, civic leaders said. Quinones thought the LIRR did this so it could better repair the structure, but this wasn’t the case.
Signs to mark the dead end road and no- parking signs used to line 90th Street, but when parts of the fence went down so did the signs. They have not been replaced.
The civic is calling for a cement wall. They say it would keep out rats, prevent dumping, which Quinones says happens frequently, would keep people who wander near the tracks from hopping the flimsy fence, and would prevent adolescents from easy access to the tracks.
“Kids play here on the block,” Newtown Civic Association member Cathy Sanfilippo said. “It’s dangerous.”
Students from Newtown High School bend down the wire to get the LIRR, Quinones said. A dead pit bull found by the train a few months back drew a group of teens, he added.
“Little kids see them and want to do it too,” Quinones said.