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home : columnists : columnists August 23, 2017


3/25/2017 4:00:00 AM
What's it take to stop a train?
The Times photo by Betsy ReasonConcerned citizens fill the Noblesville City Council Chambers on Thursday in support of keeping the train.
The Times photo by Betsy Reason

Concerned citizens fill the Noblesville City Council Chambers on Thursday in support of keeping the train.


By Betsy Reason
Editor


While the final decision on whether or not to convert the historic Nickel Plate Road rail line to a greenway trail may not come for many months, that actual decision could rest on only three votes, I am told.

The three owners of the rail line's right of way are Noblesville, Fishers and Hamilton County.

The City of Noblesville would have one vote, the City of Fishers would have one vote, and the Hamilton County Commissioners would have one vote.

The decision on whether or not to convert the rail line to a trail won't go through the County or City Councils. The Fishers City and Noblesville City councils nor the Hamilton County Council will not get involved with the decision making, unless necessary.

"We would only go to Councils if we needed the funding," said County Commissioner Mark Heirbrandt, who explained the process.

While he didn't publicly state his position on the Rails to Trails project, Heirbrandt invites people to post their thoughts on his Facebook page in a section that he's created for responses. He reads and responds to every comment and email.

He said his decision hasn't yet been made. But he was thrilled to see the standing-room-only turnout at Thursday's "community listening sessions" at Noblesville City Hall.

"I love this," Heirbrandt said. "People are coming out and showing their passion in what they believe in. We're getting a lot of ideas. I want to incorporate a lot of these ideas that we get and make something good out of it regardless of what happens."

So does this mean the players are listening and taking Noblesville citizens' thoughts to heart?

Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness, who was not in attendance at the first session in Fishers on Tuesday, but who attended the Thursday session, said while he listens to the community's thoughts for insights and new perspectives, he said, in the end, it is the officials' decision.

He said, "We're still going to do whatever we think is in the best interest of the community as a whole."

In a letter Friday to the Commissioners, Noblesville attorney John Davis, who was involved in the 1989-95 effort to save the Nickel Plate rail line from removal, incident to abandonment by Norfolk Southern, believes that "it is time to have a thoughtful discussion about the property among the three property owners."

He said, "If the three property owners cannot agree on the line's use, then a Petition for Partition in Hamilton County Court is the next step. Since your concurrence is needed for any repurposing, it is incumbent upon you to asset the County's standing in this and not let the other owners proceed with plans and schemes that they cannot legally deliver without your approval."

Davis said, "This line was, and is, the last railroad in Hamilton County....To have intact, a railroad that traverses the entirety of Indiana's wealthiest, fastest-growing county is truly sui generis (unique). Do not let your co-owners destroy the continuity of this asset, which makes it so remarkable."

He said, "This railroad was preserved by a thoughtful process 22 years ago, and we need a thoughtful process to decide how to proceed."

-Contact me at betsy@thetimes24-7.com.





Related Stories:
• Supporters want train back on track



Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, March 30, 2017
Article comment by: Bob Rainville

Wise and prudent public policy would dictate preservation of the Railroad and ITM. Both are great assets for Noblesville, Fishers, Hamilton County and central Indiana as well. A professionally managed and aggressively marketed Rail Museum is the sensible solution and should be the focus here. Mooching $9 million from a broke Federal government for a trail to destroy a viable functioning historic asset is utterly absurd. To me its good cause to drug test public officials. Yup, pee the bottle like any goof ball that makes a mess on the job and tearing out the rail for a trail is just that...a hair brained mess.



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