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Village OKs camera after safety complaints

Lindenhurst officials are taking another look -- this time through a camera lens -- into village residents' complaints that noisy freight trains are running at odd hours and presenting a safety hazard.

On Tuesday, village officials approved the placement of a 24-hour surveillance camera to monitor freight train activity. The camera will be mounted to a private residence and fixed on the intersection of Grand and North Railroad avenues, Mayor Thomas Brennan said.

The information will be recorded to a DVR, which will hold a month's worth of data, to be reviewed by village officials. The cost for the village was $400 for the camera's installation, he said.

"We're trying to get a better record of when the trains come in," Brennan said. "We've gotten some conflicting reports . . . but the camera doesn't lie."

Residents have said the use of a rail spur -- a branch track off a central rail line -- that parallels North Queens Avenue has created a noise nuisance and dangerous situation.

The spur's been used since 2008 by New York & Atlantic Railway, which leases the tracks from the Long Island Rail Road for transporting freight. The spur is used by One World Recycling Inc. and two subsidiaries of Nicolia Industries Inc. Railway officials say they use the spur primarily during weekday daytime hours, but nearby residents say trains come in overnight and on weekends.

Railway president Paul Victor said the LIRR limits when he can run trains. He said "95 percent of the activity" on the central branch line is not freight; and LIRR officials have said they use the line "infrequently."

Residents and village officials said there's a more pressing concern. As the trains maneuver into and out of the spur, the railroad crossing gate on Grand Avenue stays down for long periods, causing traffic backups that may hinder emergency vehicles. Some vehicles, accustomed to seeing the gate down but no train coming, drive around the gate, which Brennan said will lead to tragedy when a train comes through.

John Lisi, president of the Daniel Street Civic Association, said he was pleased the village put in a camera.

"Hopefully, it will substantiate and document the real happenings," he said. "In addition to this being a quality-of-life issue, this is a safety issue."

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