Polk stands ground on Rails to Trails

Published 10:37 pm Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Commissioners say they will never be in favor

TRYON—Some Polk County Commissioners said as long as they are in office, they will never be in favor of a Rails to Trails in the county. 

The Polk County Board of Commissioners met Monday and heard from resident Gary Walker during citizen comments. 

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Walker said there are statements going around Tryon that county commissioners are backing the Rails to Trails movement. 

“I went through that,” said commissioner Ray Gasperson. “So as long as I’m sitting on this board, no. I’ll never go through that again.” 

Walker asked if the resolution commissioners rescinded was still rescinded. Commissioners said the resolution is still rescinded. 

Commissioner chair Tommy Melton said he is with Gasperson as long as he is a commissioner. 

“There is no way I can support rails to trails,” Melton said. “There’s too many property owners that (the trails) go across.” 

Melton told Walker to tell whoever believes the commissioners are supporting that to come and talk to the board. 

Walker said he pretty much knew the answer but wanted to make sure. 

Gasperson said no one can even go down that road until Norfolk Southern is willing to let the rails go and at this point they are nowhere near that. 

In 2010, area towns and the county approved a resolution in support of the Rails to Trails, which would convert the area’s unused rail bed to a trail system from Landrum to Saluda. A local group worked for years on the initiative, but still lacked getting approval from Norfolk Southern to give up the rail bed. 

After hearing from a large group of area property owners, the Polk County Board of Commissioners rescinded the resolution and their support in April 2011. 

Some commissioners in 2011 said when they approved the resolution in December 2010 they thought it was a good thing, but did not know at the time that the railroad is owned by taxpayers to the middle of the tracks. Most people against Rails to Trails are property owners who do not want the foot traffic on their property.