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Posted: February 28, 2011 1:56 p.m.

Newborn states intent to buy railroad

Newborn Mayor Roger Sheridan sent a letter of intent to Norfolk Southern Monday to state Newborn's "strong interest in purchasing the railroad right of way (for) Rails to Trails in Newton County."

Because the Newton County Board of Commissioners does not plan to take any action regarding the purchase of the 15-mile railroad corridor, Sheridan is continuing to take the lead.

"The letter of intent says we want to negotiate. Let's sit down and find out how much it will cost. We don't know how much it will cost? Nobody knows what the numbers are," Sheridan said Monday.

He said Norfolk Southern has not released any price information previously and would only do so after intent to purchase was officially expressed.

"They told us they can work out payments with us. Fine, so we need to find out how much it will cost," Sheridan said. "We want to find out what we have to do."

Sheridan said the town had been waiting for Newton County to make a decision, but he felt compelled to send the letter after Norfolk Southern had sent an e-mail asking for some action by March 31 at the latest.

"I have asked our company to hold on any action until the end of the first quarter; so, we need to move this transaction along," Norfolk Southern real estate manager Robert L. Williams wrote in a Feb. 24 e-mail to local officials. "While our company is patient, we can't continue to delay our next steps in the process, possible abandonment which may result in the loss of the corridor, much longer.

"Conversely, if Newton County can't put the deal together, we understand and Norfolk Southern will proceed with the next step in the process: abandonment and removal of the track and selling the corridor to various buyers and/or adjacent property owners."

Sheridan believes the corridor could be used as a trail and as a convenient path for water pipes to transport water from the future Bear Creek reservoir.

Below is a copy of the letter of intent:

Town of Newborn
P.O. Box 247
Newborn, GA 30056
"A Town with Characters:

February 28, 2011

Robert L. Williams, SR/WA
Sr. Real Estate Manager
Norfolk Southern Corporation
Real Estate Department
1200 Peachtree Street, NE
Atlanta, GA 30309


Dear Mr. Williams:

We received your recent letter. We understand Norfolk Southern Corp. is in the process of abandoning most of its railroad from Covington to Newborn because the line will no longer be used. Various local governments in Newton County have considered purchasing the portion of the Norfolk Southern railroad that runs through Newton County.

We are advised that a 15+ mile portion of the Norfolk Southern railroad runs between Porterdale and Newborn and is suitable for use as pedestrian and bicycle trails, and Newborn would be in a good staging area for users of the trail especially bicyclists. The Town wishes to show its support for Rails to Trails in Newton County, as such would help create a pedestrian and bicyclist corridor on the rail bed so as to advance downtown revitalization and be in the best interest of the citizens and promote the public health, safety and welfare.

Thus, at a recent meeting, the Council authorized me to write this letter of intent stating our strong interest in purchasing the railroad right of way to Rails to Trails in Newton County. We wish to begin immediate contract negotiations.

By Mayor: _____________________________

Attest: _____________________________
Town Clerk

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