Commissioners to aid railroad trail project

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 14, 2000

County commissioners will help in a local recreation group’s efforts to build a trail along the old Detroit, Toledo and Ironton railroad bed.

Friday, April 14, 2000

County commissioners will help in a local recreation group’s efforts to build a trail along the old Detroit, Toledo and Ironton railroad bed.

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The non-profit Iron Furnace Rail Trails wants to lease the railroad right of way owned by the county, David Salyers, the group’s vice president, told commissioners Thursday.

"Our team has been meeting for two years to lay the foundation and we are at a point where we want to start fund raising," Salyers said. "We need to show people we are ready."

The group presented the county with a draft 99-year lease. The commission referred the draft contract to the county prosecutor for study.

"We’re not opposed to the idea, we just want to make sure you can access grant dollars," commissioner George Patterson said.

Taking part of the railroad land off the county government’s ownership list and transferring it to a private group might prevent that group from accessing certain state grant programs because many programs require local government backing, Patterson said.

Grand Trunk Railroad, the city and private individuals also own part of the rail bed, which runs from the city limits to Elizabeth Township limits.

"We have no problem with granting a long-term lease," Patterson said. "We just want to check final ownership and make sure any lease doesn’t hurt grant efforts."

A trail along the old rail bed will create valuable recreation opportunities, Salyers said.

"Other Ohio rail trails have also added property value to businesses," he said.

The proposed walking and bike trail would run 5.4 miles from Iron Trails Park, crossing an historic trestle and six WPA bridges, passing the LaGrange furnace and ending at an abandoned tunnel – all potential tourist attractions, the group said last year during a tour of the area.

The trail group wants to preserve the legacy of iron in the founding of Ironton, bring recognition to historic sites, attract tourist dollars and enhance economic development by giving interested companies more recreational possibilities

The trail committee is considering grants. State leaders have suggested the county and recreation groups seek recreational easements.

In other action, commissioners:

– Signed a $45,000 contract for the galvanized steel superstructure of bridge number six on County Road 6, which is scheduled to be replaced. The cost was 6 percent below the estimate.

– Read a letter from the Ohio Department of Transportation rejecting a request to install a left turn signal at the temporary stoplight for the Ohio 775 and Irene Road intersection.

Residents had complained to commissioners and state Rep. John Carey, who requested ODOT intervention.

ODOT stated in the letter that traffic patterns were improving and that a turn signal would only complicate traffic problems further.

– Received and referred to state legislators a petition from Rock Camp residents opposed to a juvenile treatment center that is operating there.

– Delayed action again on a request from the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department for more police cruisers.

"There is no movement yet," commission president Bruce Trent told chief deputy Jim Cochran, who came to the meeting to follow up on the sheriff’s request.

"There are some budget issues and potential budget issues we are looking at," Trent said.

– Adopted a resolution supporting the Workforce Development Resource Center’s One Stop Center’s continued location in Ironton.

It has been rumored there are efforts to move the office out of Ironton but commissioners are satisfied with its operation now and it should stay in Ironton, Patterson said.