Tryon approves resolution in support of Rails To Trails

Published 10:47 pm Sunday, June 25, 2017

TRYON – Tryon Town Council heard both negative and positive comments regarding support for a Rails to Trails movement before unanimously approving a resolution.

Council met June 20 and heard from several residents before its approval.

Town manager Zach Ollis said the town has been given information regarding a possible Rails to Trails project and he recently had a meeting with residents who voiced concern over the project. Ollis thanked residents who showed up and said he got a lot of information. The resolution gives support behind the idea of a Rails to Trails, Ollis said. The project is being initiated by Landrum officials.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Darrell Edney said according to his deed, his property goes to the middle of the railroad track. He said he’s already been through this with Polk County commissioners and Andy Millard years ago and when it was over he said he told them he doesn’t want to have to take a 30 aught 6 to get somebody off his property. Edney also asked where all the money is going to come from, spoke of places that the tracks are washed out in the valley, and asked who is going to pay for those repairs.

“I don’t go on nobody’s land that I know of,” Edney said.

Edney said it would be difficult for emergency personnel to access the trail if someone had a heart attack and also said, “then you’re going to have rape up there, sex up there…”

Joyce Kimpton said Tryon Town Council passed the same resolution in November 2010 “and here we are seven years later again. What happened, is that one not good anymore?”

She said a core group of property owners went every time this issue has come up and expressed their opinions.

She asked why the town is even considering this when everyone knows Norfolk Southern is not giving up the “W” line.

She called it a “pipe dream,” saying there’s no real plan of what anyone’s going to do. Kimpton also said property owners have lawsuits all over the country over this and the property owners are winning.

“This is, per se, the taking of our property without any compensation,” Kimpton said.

She said the only people who want Rails to Trails are people who don’t live on it. In the last month, Kimpton added, she had someone sleeping near her property in the woods, and she had people walking the tracks with machetes and long guns. She calls the police and it may take two hours for them to get there. She encouraged the town to put their enthusiasm towards things that are really needed, like sidewalks that are falling apart and potholes in the roads.

“You may win this battle,” Kimpton said, “you may pass this resolution, but the Rails to Trails war is not over.”

John Marino said he’s been on several trails, including the Creeper Trail and the Swamp Rabbit Trail and property values have gone up in those areas 20 percent. People from the audience responded that property values going up is not a good thing if you are not going to sell your property.

Marino spoke of the country’s obesity rates increasing and said around trails is where people want to move and bring their families.

“You can’t have a community just of 65-year-olds,” Marino said. “You have to have a community that is vibrant. Not just with people who don’t want change.”

Marino also said nobody has sex on these trails and nobody takes drugs on these trails. He said Travelers Rest, S.C. has been transformed because of the trail, saying it used to be an “arm pit.”

Gary Walker asked Marino if he owned property on the trails.

“If they don’t they can take their leash and go home, because they don’t have a dog in the fight,” said Walker.

Bruce Wilson said he lives on Horseshoe Curve Road and he and his family are private people.

“We don’t like to see people,” said Wilson. “We like to be left alone. We’re not asking for anything except to leave us alone.”

Tommy Burrell said he lives close to the tracks and his neighbors have had issues with people trespassing and problems with law enforcement saying his area is not in their jurisdiction. He asked what’s fair about Rails to Trails and said there is crime on the tracks.

JJ Suave, a  resident of Horseshoe Curve Road, said when he worked for the Rutherford County Police Department there was quite a bit of crime on their Rails to Trails. Suave said he personally responded to several overdoses and walked up on people shooting up drugs. He said a fellow officer got stabbed with a needle on the trail.

“There is crime,” Suave said. “There are a lot of things you should take into consideration before you look at this resolution.”

Blake Sanders, a landscape architect who said he worked on many trails throughout the United States, including the Virginia Creeper and Swamp Rabbit Trail, said the Swamp Rabbit Trail took 15 years to accomplish. He said town council should think about it as a phasing project. He also suggested organizers think about design standards and things like call boxes for safety. He added that the Swamp Rabbit Trail has police.

Marino said people are passionate about the trails and he gets it.

“There’s nothing being built tomorrow,” Marino said. “It’s just a resolution. There’s nothing wrong with dreaming big. Good dreams are good for the soul, okay? That’s all this is. It’s something to improve the community.”

Commissioner Bill Ingham said he understand folks that live on the trail have a beef with the idea. Since the tracks closed, he said, he can’t say how many people have asked why the town doesn’t do something with the tracks. Ingham said there are way more people in support of the idea than against it.

The resolution was approved unanimously by commissioners Ingham, Bill Crowell and Crys Armbrust.

The City of Saluda also recently passed a similar resolution in support of Rails To Trails.