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Residents blast LIRR horns

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But now, with trees hacked away to reveal a graffiti-stained fence and birds' chirping drowned out by incessant train horn blasting they say their dream home has taken on a nightmarish quality."They just came in and literally slaughtered the trees, it's just insane," a distraught Danielle Marron said during a recent interview at her Cherry Street home. Across the street from her house, the train tracks lay in view, partly obscured by a low metal fence and a tangle of fallen tree branches and twigs. Just beyond on the other side of the tracks stood a wooden fence marked with seemingly old graffiti tags.In recent correspondence to state Sen. FrankPadavan's (R-Bellerose) office, the LIRR claimed dead and diseased trees and trimming debris had been removed in the Douglaston area.Marron said that neither she nor her neighbors received any notification of the tree-cutting more than a month ago, but LIRR spokesman Sam Zambuto said the area was leafleted in September.After being supplied photograph's of the Cherry Street fence, the spokesman also said the LIRR inspected it and found a 12-foot section in need of repair, which, he added, will be fixed Friday.The LIRR had launched a program late last year to eliminate trees along its right of way to help prevent train wheels from slipping on the tracks; the campaign met staunch opposition from neighbors in Douglaston, Auburndale and elsewhere."Not only can I see it," Marron said of the train traffic, "but I can hear it É and sometimes I can feel the whole house vibrating" since the trees were removed.Previously, she asserted, the trees' presence muffled the sound and the vibrations to a great degree.She also said the train conductors were inconsistent in blowing their horns, sometimes tooting them a half-mile away from the station, other times farther away; sometimes with a couple toots and in other instances up to six times."I didn't think they were going to hit the horn three-fourths of a mile ahead of the station," said Marron, whose home is roughly that distance from the Douglaston train station. "I mean what are they trying to do, save a squirrel?" she asked in frustration. Zambuto said state law required the LIRR sound horns at at-grade crossings, and given the proximity to the Little Neck at-grade crossing, a standard sequence --two long blasts, one short, and then one more long - was required.Proposals to establish a LIRR quiet zone -in Douglaston - a barrier at the train stop sufficient, in the Federal Railway Authority's view, to negate the need for train horns - have been held up as the city Department of Transportation weighs two competing proposals.Meanwhile, Marron said, the couple are struggling to cope with noise levels that both described as "unbearable.""We put our whole life into this," Danielle Marron said, adding that she and her husband moved from the Upper East Side in hopes of finding a quiet home with a nice backyard."I just can't believe this is happening," she said, gazing at the tracks in disbelief.Reach reporter M. Junaid Alam by e-mail at malam@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300 Ext 174.

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