Railroad Pond, a pristine manmade body of water in Cortlandt, New York is under siege by the cost-cutting measures of utility giant Consolidated Edison. Con Ed, who has owned the lake since 1958 when power lines were erected in the area, intends to drain Railroad Pond to avoid costly dam repairs mandated by the DEC over a year and a half ago. Railroad Pond was created in 1892 by the New York Central Railroad as a means to service locomotives and provide a water source for steam engines. Since then it has gone by the names Phelps Pond, Mill Pond and Furnace Brook Lake. For the past 120 years Railroad Pond has been a neighborhood jewel for residents of Cortlandt Manor who have enjoyed fishing, boating and ice skating on the scenic 10 acre lake. It is also home to a variety of plants and animals, including fish, turtles and birds like the white heron.
Radu Dumitrescu, the spokesman for the concerned citizen’s group “Save Railroad Pond” states:
“There is no public benefit to removing the dam altogether, only loss of land, water and biodiversity. This is something that once done, cannot be undone.” He added that there are likely endangered species of wildlife present in the lake and suggested that, if necessary, a biodiversity study should be done before any changes are made to the lake.
Citizens are not the only ones in opposition to Con Ed’s plans to drain the lake. At a recent town meeting regarding the draining of Railroad Pond, County Legislators William Burton, John Testa and Michael Kaplowitz were all present as Con Ed answered questions and listened to the opposition. At the end of the meeting Town Supervisor Puglisi made a proposal to Consolidated Edison. She proposed that the town would take-up ownership and future maintenance of the dam and lake if Con Ed completed the repairs required by the DEC instead of draining it.
This is not the first time Con Ed has assaulted Railroad Pond. During the early 1990’s they reduced the water table substantially, reducing the lake to half its original size. Additionally, some claim that Consolidated Edison has adversely affected the environment in Cortlandt in the past by clear-cutting trees beneath their power lines last year.
Hopefully, with the help of concerned citizens and legislators, Railroad Pond can be saved from yet another example of self interested corporate cost-cutting.