City OK's funds to register ownership of rail corridor
Belfast — City councilors signed off on a request to spend up to $7,500 to register Belfast's ownership of the rail corridor that stretches from Penobscot McCrum to the Waldo town line.
The registration fee, which the city is trying to get decreased, is required in order for Belfast to be able to rail bank the portion of the corridor that extends from Penobscot McCrum to Oak Hill Road. City Manager Joseph Slocum told councilors the rail banking process is proceeding well, but the city must register its ownership of the corridor.
Belfast bought the 3.5 mile rail corridor in 2010 for $200,000 with the intent of constructing a recreational trail. In order to construct the trail, the city is pursuing rail banking, which will allow the municipality to preserve the corridor and remove the existing rails and ties.
The trail would most likely be a 10-foot-wide stone dust path that could be at least partially funded through the removal of the rail and rail ties. There are professional groups that remove the rails and ties, and in exchange construct the trail.
Rail banking also allows for rail service to be re-established along the corridor in the future if such a use is proposed.
As part of the planned recreational trail, the city is working with the Brooks Preservation Society to construct restroom facilities and parking at the Oak Hill end of the trail. Brooks Preservation Society purchased City Point Rail and the city would construct its restroom and parking facilities on a portion of the property owned by the organization.
The city is also partnering with Coastal Mountains Land Trust to launch a fundraising effort that will help pay for construction of the recreational trail. According to previously published reports, under the terms of the agreement between Belfast and the land trust, the city is responsible for acquiring all necessary land and easements; designing and engineering the trail; obtaining all necessary permits for construction of the trail; and paying for all construction services.
Coastal Mountains Land Trust would be primarily responsible for spearheading the fundraising efforts in terms of identifying potential donors, planning events and collecting and holding funds to be disbursed to the city. The agreement calls for the land trust to retain 5 percent of the proceeds to “partially offset the direct and indirect expenses to its staff,” the agreement states.
The remainder of the proceeds would be distributed to the city on a monthly basis.
Funding for the registration fee was unanimously approved by councilors and the money will be transferred from the undesignated fund account.
In other business:
Councilors approved selling a lot in the Belfast Airport Business Park to a small manufacturing facility that would build energy efficient building components.
A request by Brooks Preservation Society to conduct three train rides from the Upper Bridge to City Point Railroad on October 12, 13, and 14 was approved.
The city decreased the asking price for a ladder truck it has been advertising for over a year. The city was asking $40,000 for the vehicle but Slocum asked to lower the price to $30,000.
Ben Holbrook is a reporter for The Republican Journal covering general news.
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