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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Fax: 540-483-8013

Saving the old Boones Mill depot
Problems need resolution for land swap
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Staff Photo by Stacey Hairston: County officials spelled out two obstacles that must be eliminated before the county will agree to a land swap with Boones Mill to relocate the old train depot.

Friday, January 17, 2014

By KEN BRADLEY - Staff Writer

Two major obstacles have to be eliminated by Boones Mill Town Council before Franklin County will enter into a land swap deal, designed to save the old railroad depot in the town.

That was the message delivered Tuesday night to Boones Mill Town Council by Boone District Supervisor Ronnie Thompson, county Administrator Rick Huff and county public works Director Don Smith.

Council has proposed a land swap that would move the old depot to county-owned property and give the county town-owned property for a garbage collection site.

A parcel has been identified for a new collection site for the county as part of the land swap proposal, Smith said. However, a railroad crossing problem must be addressed. The railroad crossing that borders the site must be turned from a private right-of-way into a public right-of- way.

Norfolk Southern must give the town a formal agreement stating that the railroad can be crossed by the public, allowing cars and trucks the ability to get to the proposed collection site, Smith said.

If that is accomplished, he said the other major obstacle will be improving access to the site.

In a handout presented to town council, Smith noted that the existing access road would need to be upgraded to accommodate heavy trucks. Excavation and repairs to accomplish this would cost an estimated $200,000.

The proposed collection site would also have to be upgraded. It has a rock base but there is considerable grass growing in it, he said.

"Two inches of stone added to the existing stone to keep cars and feet clean while at dumpsters would cost approximately $20,000 for two acres coverage," Smith said.

The handout also noted that a 50-foot-wide right-of-way for ingress and egress would need to be dedicated to the satisfaction of the county. The surveying, platting and recording of this document would cost approximately $2,000.

The handout also said the proposed site is within a former industrial complex, so a Phase I environmental study would be a minimum requirement to insure there were no environmental risks for the county to assume. The estimated cost for this study is $2,500.

The site is in a secluded, unlit area, the handout said, so a minimum of three dusk-to-dawn style lights would be required to adequately illuminate the area.

Norfolk Southern has given the town until May 1 to move the old depot from the railroad property. The railroad company had planned to demolish the structure.

The town plans to move the 107-year-old structure and renovate it to be used as a tourist attraction, complete with Boones Mill memorabilia.

Norfolk Southern is willing to give it to the town because it is an insurance liability, but the structure must be moved from its current location.

Supervisors have said previously that the land swap deal is possible, as long as it is at no expense to the county.

The town has been working to raise money and obtain grants for the project, which could eventually cost several hundred thousand dollars.

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