After neighbors on West Boulevard Parkway including John Coleman, Nancy Owens, Cory Tylenda and Chris Gold asked Councilmember Clifford for help with CSX, Molly reached out to Senator Chuck Schumer for some assistance in Washington.
Schumer did one better -- he came to John Coleman's backyard to see the problem firsthand.
Here's a link to a Democrat and Chronicle blog post talking about the problem:
Senator Schumer had a lot to say about the situation.
He is urging CSX to immediately help clean up the swampy, mosquito-breeding property behind homes in Charlotte. Schumer said standing water is public enemy #1 in the fight against mosquito-borne disease.
Schumer was joined by Rochester City Councilmember Molly Clifford, City of Rochester Engineer Jim McIntosh, and Boulevard Parkway residents John Coleman, Nancy Owens, Cory Tylenda, and Chris Gold.
Rochester City Councilmember Molly Clifford was excited to have the Senator join in the fight. “I want to thank Senator Schumer for his efforts to help us resolve this problem,” she said. “It has been plaguing the residents of Boulevard Parkway for over a decade. It is frustrating to have our calls for help ignored, but thanks to Senator Schumer, I am optimistic that we will be able to take care of this issue once and for all!”
Senator Schumer was forceful in his call to action.
“With mosquito season in full swing, the people of Rochester are rightfully concerned about the threat posed by the stagnant water pools along CSX’s tracks, which could be a breeding ground for mosquito-borne illness. We need to take care of this public health risk before potentially diseased mosquitoes have the chance to breed right here in Rochesterians’ backyards,” said Schumer. “The City of Rochester already has a plan in place and is willing to do the work to fix this problem – but we need CSX’s cooperation right away. CSX has been responsive to the concerns of New Yorkers in the past, so I am asking them once again to step up to the plate and be the responsible corporate citizen and give the City of Rochester the permission it needs to move forward with this project.”
Schumer explained that, for years, the residents of Boulevard Parkway, located in the neighborhood of Charlotte within the City of Rochester, have tried to get CSX Railroad to mitigate the pooling water in and around its rail track’s right-of-way section. Schumer said these water pools, which are located right behind residential homes in the Boulevard Parkway neighborhood, are a result of the debris, brush, tree limbs and other materials that have accumulated in the gully area along the CSX tracks blocking a drain in-take, and preventing the water from flowing naturally and dissipating from the area. Instead the water pools and stagnates, creating a hazardous mosquito-breeding area.
“The mosquitos brought by the stagnant water along the railroad tracks and are a concern for my family’s health and makes it unbearable to spend time outside during the summer. Our neighborhood needs CSX to grant clearance so that the City of Rochester can clear out the debris,” said Boulevard Parkway resident John Coleman.
Schumer said Boulevard Parkway homeowners in the area have reported that the debris have gone unaddressed for months, and even years. As a result, the problem has only gotten worse. While residents have tried to contact CSX, their requests have not yet gotten CSX to act. Schumer said this has resulted in some homeowners resorting to hiring companies to spray their properties every few weeks during the summer to try and control mosquitoes, while others have simply avoided going outside. Schumer said this is unacceptable, as residents should be able to enjoy their own backyards in the summer months. According to the NY State Department of Health, members of the public can protect themselves from creating mosquito-breeding areas by eliminating standing water in their yards.
Schumer said the fact that diseases like West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) have been found in mosquitoes in the Rochester region, means it is especially important these stagnant water pools be addressed as soon as possible. In order to clean up these water pools and rid this neighborhood of a potentially hazardous mosquito breading ground, the City of Rochester has said it is prepared to conduct the necessary work that would remove the debris along the gully, as well as unclog a drain in-take that is making the pooling worse. However, Schumer explained that the City is required to get CSX’s permission before it can gain access to the right-of-way track.
Therefore, Schumer is urging CSX to work swiftly and cooperatively with the City of Rochester to support the successful completion of this work. In addition, Schumer said it is imperative that, with the start of the summer months, CSX take proactive measures in the future when maintaining the railroad embankment to safeguard against stone or other debris from sliding down into the gully.
According to a 2015 report from the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, the mosquitoes that carry West Nile are considered endemic now in New York State. According to the report, there have been 643 cases of West Nile in New York, and 47 deaths as a result of the virus. In Monroe County there have been nine cases diagnosed in the past 15 years. A separate report from the Democrat & Chronicle cited the fact that EEE, a rare but dangerous mosquito-borne infection, has popped up in the Rochester region the last two summers.