(Editor's Note: The following testimony by Senator Craig M. Johnson was read into the record at a July 17 hearing by the Assembly Third Track Task Force. The remarks were read into the record by Senator Johnson's Chief of Staff Rafe Lieber because Johnson was hosting a long-scheduled community forum in Floral Park, and was unable to attend the hearing in person. It is being reprinted here at the senator's request.)
"Ladies and gentlemen, we stand in a different place today than we have in quite some time. The latest news from the MTA, that the Third Track project is being put on hold indefinitely, is a great first step in our fight against this ill-conceived, community devastating project. But let's be clear - this is only the beginning. In no way was it stated that this project is dead, only delayed. In fact, just today there was a story in Newsday detailing two MTA board members disappointment in the project's delay.
There are still very powerful forces out there who want Third Track to go forward. Now is not the time for us to rest. Now is the time for us to step up our efforts.
I thank the many residents and community leaders, mayors, trustees, county legislators and members of the state Assembly who have taken up this fight. We are stronger and better when we band together and pool our might against the clandestine giant that is the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. They are accountable to no one, we as your representatives are accountable to you and I am confident that everyone in this room will continue to monitor the situation with the utmost scrutiny. If and when the time comes that we must once again rise up to take this fight, I will be there and I know my colleagues will as well.
On that note, I would like to reiterate my belief that this fight is not yet over. It is important that we continue to do everything we can to make certain the local communities along the mainline have a say in the future direction of their neighborhoods. So I once again ask our Assemblymembers to sponsor, in their house, my bill - Senate bill S7037 - also known as the Mainline Community Empowerment Act, which would provide the local Villages and Towns affected by the implementation of a Third Track to have the opportunity to approve or disapprove such action.
This is about community. We must be united. Together, we will achieve victory. Thank you.