Rail booster Bob Diamond is steamed that three of his beloved streetcars took an express trip to a Connecticut railroad museum

Streetcar named expire! Trolleys trucked away from Red Hook are latest blow to rail dream

for The Brooklyn Paper
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A train buff’s longtime dream of restoring streetcars to Red Hook went even further off the rails this past weekend when three of his beloved carriages went missing.

The owner of the lot behind Fairway Market that was home to the three rusting streetcars for the past decade had them put on flatbed trailers and hauled away to a train museum in Connecticut on Sunday. The removal put a wrench in the plans of the rail buff behind the scheme to bring back the neighborhood’s on-street transit network. Worse still, the dreamer says he is the rightful owner of the cars and the donation amounted to grand theft locomotive.

“I was in a state of complete shock,” said Bob Diamond, president of the Historic Railways Association. “We were trying to fix them up since after Hurricane Sandy.”

Diamond has stored the relics for more than a decade in the lot owned by the O’ Connell Organization, a developer, he said. But the company apparently felt enough of a sense of ownership over the old buggies to feel comfortable handing them over to the Branford Electric Railway Association, which runs the Shore Line Trolley Museum in East Haven, Conn.

“Rather than let these historic trolleys continue to sit stagnant, building up rust and rot in Red Hool, the O’ Connell Organization has passed them to BERA, which has the ability to rebuild them or at the very least can facilitate a transfer to someone that will,” said company head Greg O’Connell in a statement.

Diamond has been dedicated to bringing trolley-dodging back to Red Hook for more than two decades. His dream is to re-establish a rail connection between Red Hook and Borough Hall.

In 1999, Diamond laid a few hundred feet of track and briefly enjoyed city backing for expanding the project, but pols cut off funding by the early 2000s.

In 2011, the Department of Transportation delivered another blow when it said that bringing back the old streetcars would be too expensive.

The rail warrior insists that the size of the project is justified by the neighborhood’s need to connect to the rest of the borough.

“Red Hook is such a cut-off area,” said Diamond. “Residents should have decent transporta­tion.”

In addition to the three streetcars that were taken away Diamond says his group owns a fourth, fully restored car that is in storage at a Beard Street pier warehouse, which is also controlled by the O’Connell group. Diamond wants the remaining carriage relocated before the company has it disappeared, too.

“It should be moved at O’Connell’s cost to another location of our choice,” he said.

The train advocate is undeterred by the latest development and is pushing ahead with a feasibility study for a streetcar system with the Gowanus Canal Development Corporation. He expects the study to be completed by April .

“Hopefully with this whole situation we can turn lemons to lemonade,” said Diamond.

Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I hate to break this to Bob Diamond, but if there was a way to save those trolleys, he would have found that long ago.
Feb. 11, 2014, 7:42 pm
David L. from Red Hook says:
Do some actual reporting instead of being a mouth piece for the trolley troll.
Feb. 12, 2014, 7:42 am
Barry from Flatbush says:
That will teach someone who cares not to try to make things better.
Feb. 12, 2014, 9:25 am
Billy One Eye from ParkHook says:
Next up, restoring the horse drawn carriage to the Hook. Helpful when we get the snow, we can convert them to sleighs!
Feb. 12, 2014, 10:56 am
R_I_L from RED HOOK says:
Great article but some inaccuracy:

There was no "trial run." BHRA had a bona fide contract to build and operate a trolley line to the Atlantic Avenue Tunnel from the Red Hook Pier.
BHRA completed all planning requirements of the City, including CEQR and ULURP.

The reason why the project ended was not for lack of funding- there were many places BHRA could have received funding. The project ended because the City's DOT revoked the permits and permissions for the tracks in the streets. They revoked the permission out of the blue and without any notice, just like they did with the Atlantic Avenue Tunnel.
Feb. 12, 2014, 12:37 pm
The Real Trolley King News from Red Hook says:
Shame on the Brooklyn Paper for running these puff pieces on Bob Diamond. They're not real journalism. The Times figured out by 2004 that Bob's dream was a pipe dream ( but Bob likes to sue, so I'm not putting my real name here.
Feb. 12, 2014, 9:43 pm
thomas lawrence from brooklyn heights says:
The idea is a really good one. Criticizing Bob Diamond is way off the point. No one person can change the DOT, as Bob has known for years, since he used to be a DOT employee. More to the point, trollies make a lot of sense, just like they originally did. It was the "money power" and lobbies that went for buses and cars, instead. Nothing happens until someone figures out how to make money off it.
Feb. 12, 2014, 10:04 pm
pirichardtracy from brooklyn heights says:
Mr. Diamond’s BHRA has been reporting questionable financials for years. Notice how the Brooklyn Historic Railway Association does not claim any trolley cars on their Form 990 as assets.
Feb. 13, 2014, 10:20 am
there's a fake from Red Hook says:
And it's got the name O’Connell all over it.

O'Connell comes up with this deversion/lie claiming to have made a donation to have the trollys rehabilitated, which turns out in actuality to be a tax sheltering/evasion to pay for the extraction and transportation of them to the trolly grave yard - for scrap & parts that is.

The only reason this guy became a cop was to learn how to work the system.
Feb. 13, 2014, 10:26 am
Scott from Park Slope says:
It is a pity the city did not bring back trolleys to Brooklyn. The subways are too Manhattan-centric, which is problematic for Brooklyn given the renaissance that's happening; we need more intra-borough transportation. Trolleys, beyond their practical benefit, bring a lot of cachet to a place, too. SF and New Orleans both get a lot of character from theirs.
Feb. 13, 2014, 11:01 am
Dick from Red Hook says:
Is there a kickstarter campaign or something going on to revive this project? Seriously the single bus line here is killing me.

Want to roll on some smooth track to other parts of town!! I hope they resume their project soon.

Maybe with the new mayor in town...
Feb. 13, 2014, 1:48 pm
generous donation from Red Hook says:

So it appears that the generous donation was in effect an illegal rightoff used to cover the cost of disposal. What a hero.

Someone call the IRS!
Feb. 13, 2014, 4:06 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
The trolleys are gone and they are not coming back anytime soon. If there was a way a to keep them intact, a solution would have been found decades ago rather than remove or pour over the tracks entirely. Even if it could be brought back, where would the money for it come from let alone who will be footing the bill for it? Unfortunately, Diamond has to understand why NYC no longer has grade level transit and why it was taken down in the first place rather than sulk over that loss.
Feb. 13, 2014, 6:39 pm
ty from pps says:
"Unfortunately, Diamond has to understand why NYC no longer has grade level transit..."

Oh, wise Tal, please educate all of us. Please share your stupid "understanding" of why trolleys and streetcars are a bad idea. Please tell us, Tal, why world class cities around the world have streetcars and why it's such a horrible idea for NYC. I'm sure you can provide such an informed argument, oh wise one.

Goddamn. Please just help your mother shovel the driveway.
Feb. 13, 2014, 6:43 pm
JAY from NYC says:
I don{t know if the trolleys are a good idea or not, but this guy does not seem to be the guy who could make it happen.
Feb. 13, 2014, 6:51 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Ty, trolleys and streetcars were removed because their tracks represented a danger. I can still remember hearing about how 10th Avenue in Manhattan was such a danger with all the streetcars running it. Many of them were lost to buses, because they weren't limited to tracks or wires. Perhaps the reason why other places in both the country and world can have these could be because they have the space and aren't so densely populated as NYC is. Again, if there was a way to save the trolleys for NYC, that would have been the case decades ago.
Feb. 13, 2014, 7:24 pm
ty from pps says:
And there it is... the most uninformed and weird thoughts of Tal Barzilai. To be so predictable must be comforting on some level.
Feb. 13, 2014, 8:32 pm
KB from Greenpoint says:
Noting wrong with streetcars in general. However, if this city were to eventually restore such service it should be with modern ones and not these museum pieces, which should be restricted to an occasional fan trip.
Feb. 14, 2014, 1:59 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Ty, instead of making personal attacks, give good reasons why trolley or streetcar service should be restored for NYC, otherwise don't bother if you have nice to say.
Feb. 14, 2014, 8:26 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I meant to say if you have nothing nice to say at the end of that comment.
Feb. 14, 2014, 8:27 pm
resident from Brooklyn says:
Street cars happen to be under review again by the City of New York. There's a draft line from Queens right down to guess where, Red Hook! So hold you theories guys as Mr. Diamond may just be a diamond in the ruff. Ding, ding, ding, comes the trolley (again!).
Feb. 15, 2014, 12:49 am
TrolleyTroll from Sewer says:
Bob Diamond is an epic failure and criminal.
Feb. 15, 2014, 11:45 am

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