We expect that most people saw the front page news article in all the local papers about a proposal to reactivate rail service on the long abandoned Metro RTA right-of-way. Yes, the very same right-of-way that is being considered for a multipurpose trail from Akron to Hudson known as the Veterans Trail.
Here are the reasons that TASCforce opposes rail service:
1) Train traffic is noisy, interferes with traffic, and can be dangerous.
2) An active rail line lowers the property value for all residents living nearby. But on the other hand, studies show that rail trails actually raise those values.
3) The proposed bulk transfer station will be dusty and dirty with unsightly piles of materials and heavy truck traffic lumbering in and out. It does not fit with the office/warehouse/light manufacturing business parks that people expect to find in residential communities.
4) Heavy industries that require rail service are also not appropriate in suburban settings. For example, a proposed garbage-to-jet fuel plant with a sixty-foot smokestack is just not something that people want to live near.
5) The proposed storage of unused graffiti-covered rail cars, sitting for months at a time, along Route 8 and in the back yards of private residences is also not something that suburban dwellers want.
6) Importantly, the loss of the opportunity to have a first-rate multipurpose trail connecting five communities in a densely populated corridor would be most unfortunate. Stow has already been approved for $700,000 in funding for this trail and these funds would have to be forfeited if rail service was reactivated instead.
7) Furthermore, the likelihood that this rail venture will be successful is far from certain. Yet it has the potential to delay the development of a multipurpose trail for years.
8) And finally, a multipurpose trail is a far "higher and better" use of this property as it will enable all the residents of Summit County to enjoy a beautiful trail rather than allowing a very few railroad employees and some unpopular businesses entities to benefit.
For these reasons TASCforce is petitioning Metro RTA to:
1) Dismiss the rail proposal and embrace the multipurpose trail proposal instead.
2) Make an application with the Federal Transit Administration immediately to permit the right-of-way to be repurposed as a multipurpose trail.
3) Request the support that Senator Rob Portman's office has offered to facilitate the FTA application.
4) And once the application is approved, sign leases with Summit MetroParks and/or the local communities along the right-of-way to allow the trail to be built.
We appreciate the fine service that Metro RTA provides to the residents of Summit County. A fine example is that they leased a different right-of-way to Summit MetroParks which enabled the Freedom Trail to be built. We see this as an opportunity to continue that fine tradition. . The proposed Veterans Trail is truly a unique opportunity that has languished far too long.
Thank you for considering our position on this matter. Thus TASCforce is asking all its followers to talk to friends, family members, community leaders, and government agencies to oppose the rail proposal and support the trail instead. For instructions on how you can submit a letter to Metro RTA, click here.