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Putnam County Executive Maryellen Odell, announced late yesterday afternoon that the county has arranged for a plan that will fully finance maintence costs for the Putnam County Rail Trail. The trail has been the topic of intense debate when a private company, Bikepath Country, was given a contract to sell advertising space on signs along the trail. This new plan eliminates the complexity of a private corporation and the county will run the program on its own.
"This new partnership will be a milestone in public/private cooperation," said Ms. Odell in a press release. "The partnering between Putnam County, Verizon Communications and Entergy will generate enough income and services that the taxpayers of the county will no longer be burdened with the cost of upkeep of the trail."
Verizon will pay the county an annual fee of $56,000 for the ability to build monopole cell towers at 1/2 mile intervals along the length of the trail. As part of the agreement Verizon will also provide free WiFi access to trail users. Said Irene D'Bell, press secretary for Verizon New York, "We understand public safety is vitally important and our improved cell network will make it much easier for trail users to notify authorities if something untoward should happen along the trail."
Entergy, owner of the nearby Indian Point nuclear power plant, will provide night lighting along the trail. The company will install radium markers at 25' intervals so that the trail can be used during the evening and nighttime hours. Entergy will also provide funds for self-illuminated kiosks at trail intersections which will hold informational signs directing trail users to emergency services such as McDonalds and local convenience stores. The kiosks will be powered by spent fuel rods from the Indian Point plant and will generate enough electricity to keep the LED lighting system running for years to come. Each kiosk will also hold a USB smartphone charging station so that, combined with Verizon's WiFi service, people can use the trail without missing Game of Thrones.
County Highway Commissioner Pena added his support for the new arrangement. "With the joining together of two monopolies our residents can rest assured that the rail trail will be maintained to the highest standards possible," said the Commissioner. He added, "We cannot, however, ban tractor trailers from the trail as it would be a violation of the Commerce clause of the US Constitution. But appropriate safety devices will be installed to lessen the danger of personal harm."
Outgoing County Legislative Chair Richie Othmer said, "See? I wasn't sure this the right way to go but I changed my mind once I saw the benefits to our residents. With the 2% tax cap in place the county needs all the outside revenue it can get. So what if people glow a little? It's saving them money."
But county legislator Ginny Nacerino was unhappy with the deal. "It's important we focus on public safety issues and that is why I favor our initial arrangement with BikePath Country. I don't care what the people say, I know that was the right way to go!" While legislator Barbara Scuccimara, who hails from Philipstown said, "this is an expense we cannot afford even if someone else is paying the bill. None of that money will be coming to Philipstown where it's most needed for road improvements so that our residents no longer get dings in their BMWs from rocks thrown up from the road."
Ms. Odell said that work on the new cell network would begin as soon as next week and that Entergy's role will begin the moment they find a manufacturer of radium watch faces.
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