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February 21, 2014

Sen. Schumer visits Cooperstown, talks railroad needs

By Mark Boshnack Staff Writer
The Daily Star

---- — The needs of a Cooperstown-based railroad got support from Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., Thursday at a media conference. 

He went to the headquarters of the New York Susquehanna and Western Railway to push for the Short Line Railroad Rehabilitation and Investment Act. This would restore a tax credit to short line railroads like the NYSW. The credit that expired Jan. 1 is for 50-percent of the cost of repairs and maintenance, up to $3,500 a mile.

Schumer’s bill seeks to make it retroactive and continue through 2016. The rail is an arterial route for 85 state businesses that ship their products to the Port of New York, especially agricultural businesses transporting commodities like lumber and grains, Schumer said.

“The New York Susquehanna and Western Railroad has numerous opportunities for growth and development, but only if they have the capital to make needed infrastructure improvements. That’s why I’m fighting to extend the expiring federal tax credit for short line railroads” that will help the rails maintain and upgrade their tracks, said Schumer. It will be part of a package of tax extenders that will be considered at the end of March. They are important to many members of Congress so he expected the legislation would pass, he said.

Railroad President Nathan Fenno, was among those at the event.

 “We’re obviously thrilled the Senator took to the time to come and put his support behind the credit.” It has allowed the rail to keep its infrastructure up-to-date, an expense it could not otherwise have afforded. Because of the nature of the credit, it is not a direct payments - “its a great partnership,” he said.

Since the credit was instituted in 2005, the rail has used about $7.5 million in tax credits and is looking to continue to maintain and upgrade its infrastructure to keep it efficient. If approved it will allow the railroad to undertake as much as $3 million in improvements, Schumer said.

Otsego County Chamber of Commerce President and Chief Executive Officer Barbara Ann Heegan was also at the event. It showed just how engaged Schumer is with the needs of the area, she said.

 “He is a great advocate” who recognizes the value of growth and development. “We always welcome him” because he really cares about the upstate business community, she said.

Others at the event included Cooperstown Mayor Jeff Katz, and Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Patricia Szarpa.