Politicians demand Norfolk Southern stop leasing parcels in Newark neighborhood

“In their quest for short-term corporate profits, Norfolk Southern’s leasing of this property has created social and environmental impact issues in our community.” — Sen. Teresa Ruiz – (DAVID HUTTER)

Several New Jersey politicians demanded Norfolk Southern railroad stop leasing parcels along an abandoned rail line it owns at 861 Summer Ave. in a residential neighborhood in the North Ward of Newark.

U.S. Rep. Albio Sires, state Sen. Teresa Ruiz, Newark North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos Jr. and Newark Council Member Luis Quintana made these demands Friday at a press conference at the property, which contains dozens of commercial vehicles and trash.

“We have been dealing with this issue with Norfolk Southern for several years and nothing was done,” Sires said. “This has been affecting the residents of my district for far too long and it is now out of hand.”

Ramos called the property an illegal salvage yard.

Ruiz said the issue centers on social economic justice and environmental justice. She said she has been working on it for several years but has not been given an answer.

“In their quest for short-term corporate profits, Norfolk Southern’s leasing of this property has created social and environmental impact issues in our community,” Ruiz said. “Today, we are asking Norfolk Southern to stop, remediate the mess and come to the table with a positive, long-term solution that is equitable and respectful to the residents of this community.”

They said Norfolk Southern has leased out parcels to tenants who are operating businesses without proper approvals from the city and have turned a residential neighborhood into a de-facto industrial area.

The company, they claimed, has failed to respond to numerous requests by officials who want to resolve issues that are destroying the quality of life for residents who live along the abandoned rail line, including illegal dumping, idling diesel trucks and improper storage of materials.

Norfolk Southern Corp. spokesman Jonathan Glass said the company is committed to being a good corporate citizen.

“We are reviewing the concerns raised today by these elected officials,” Glass said. “We have worked with local authorities in the past to ensure that this property is cleaned of trash, and we will review the current situation and take appropriate action, including reminding tenants of their responsibilities through their leases with Norfolk Southern.”

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