The city of Rome is hoping Norfolk Southern will donate two parcels of land to the city, where public trails exist, to clear up some ownership issues.
A lease agreement between the city and the railroad company for the property was recommended for approval by Rome’s Public Works Committee this week and will go to the full City Commission.
City Manager Sammy Rich said he has asked Norfolk Southern to deed the property to the city after research by the city’s engineering department kicked off a series of events that uncovered the corporation still owns both parcels.
“We have our trails systems built on them and we maintain them,” Rich said. “It would make sense (to own the property).”
One parcel is 3.73 acres and includes the river levee that runs along Second Avenue and is part of the Heritage Trails System.
The second parcel is 1.5 acres and includes the south end of the Silver Creek Trail between East 12th Street and the Georgia Power substation across from the Floyd County Health Department.
Calls to Norfolk Southern communications staff from the Rome News-Tribune have not been returned.
“I think their real estate department realizes they’ve got some liability here, so in the meantime we will get the lease in place,” Rich said. “It’s one of those things that’s been simmering for a while, but I’m optimistic we’ll get it completely resolved.”
The city would pay Norfolk Southern $1,200 a year for both parcels under the lease agreement.
Rich said they have found the 1936 agreement with the railroad company in that gave the city the easement to build the levee, but the property wasn’t purchased by the city and trails were not part of the conversation at the time.
Rome is also negotiating with Norfolk Southern on purchasing the right-of-way of the unused railroad corridor just west of the Summerville Park neighborhood to build the second phase of the Redmond Trail.
Rich said they are waiting on an updated appraisal of the property and to hear from Norfolk Southern, but there is no timetable for when the sale might happen.
The cost for the property would come out of the $1.8 million earmarked in the 2013 SPLOST for expanding trail connectivity in the city, according to Rich.
The first phase of the Redmond Trail, funded by a $400,000 grant from the state’s Department of Transportation and $100,000 of local funds, will connect the Heritage Trail system outlet off Avenue A with Tolbert Park.