Thursday, September 14, 2000

Industrial park might get rail access

Lebanon will look for funding sources

By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — The city is considering extending railroad tracks into its new industrial park to make the park more attractive to businesses and make fuller use of the city-owned tracks.

        The immediate impetus is Quantum Metals, a metal processing company that's looking to move 35 jobs from Springdale to Lebanon. It wants a guarantee of rail service within four years before it agrees to build a $1.4 million plant here.

  In other action Tuesday, council:

  • Approved a three-year contract for Turtle Creek Valley Railway to operate on the city's tracks once repairs are completed. The railway will pay the city a per-passenger fee, plus $5,000 this year to help with repairs. In 2001, the fee will be 15 cents per person for the first 30,000 people and 50 cents per person above 30,000. In 2002, the fee will rise to $1 for each person above 30,000.
  • Allocated $80,000 to pay for restoration of the city-owned house on North Broadway at the entrance to Colonial Park.
  • Voted 6-1 to remove barriers prohibiting turns from Main Street onto Mound Street. Councilman James Reinhard voted against.

        The city's four miles of track stop 3,800 feet short of Columbia Business Park. City Manager James Patrick said it'll cost about $380,000 to extend the tracks, but state grants are available.

        “I can pretty well say that within the next two years we will have other companies — at least one other company — that will be using rail,” Mr. Patrick told City Council at its meeting Tuesday night.

        Council is scheduled to vote Sept. 26 on a contract with Quantum that includes the guarantee.

        Councilman James Reinhard has expressed reservations about extending rail, saying the 138-acre park near Interstate 71 is a choice location that the city can sell without spending money on rail.

        However, the city will be able to sell lots along the rail extension for more than the $30,000 per acre that it's charging now, planner Doug Johnson said.

        “There's a very limited amount of rail access (elsewhere) in the area,” he said.

        Also, having industrial customers for the tracks will aid the city's effort to keep the Turtle Creek Valley Railway, a tourist train, Mr. Pat rick said.

        “One of the things we're trying to do is build a freight service here so that they'll help us maintain our rail,” Mr. Patrick said at a recent council work session.

        The tracks have been declared unsafe for passenger traffic, but the city is getting federal money to cover 80 percent of the $300,000 repair.


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