Advocates for the Rails to Trails project that has been in the works for more than a year will return to Cheraw Town Council Dec. 10, requesting “$450 to keep it going,” said Cheraw Town Administrator Mike Smith.
This will make the second time the group has asked for $450; the cost for the application process up to 180 days, said Smith. Because the group was unable to reach an agreement for the purchase of the abandoned rail property during the past 180 days, another application must be made.
Councilwoman Jacqueline Ellerbe-Shannon said she was in full support of the project, but asked whether or not the group, the Friends of Cheraw to Society Hill Railroad, had done any fund raising on their own.
Cheraw Mayor Andy Ingram said this group has put a lot of time, research, and personal travel money into the project. “I think what they’ve accomplished has been productive.”
“I’m just saying, they were established as a non-profit organization over a year ago. Seems like a fundraiser should be going on,” said Ellerbe-Shannon. “That doesn’t mean I’m against it.”
Part of the problem and the saving grace, as it turns out, said Ingram, is that the original rail company they were dealing with asked for $1.5 million. That company sold out and the group has been offered to purchase the property for approximately $160,000; the cost for appraisal.
The Rails to Trails project has been popular across the country in recent decades, turning abandoned railroad tracks into biking and walking trails.
While the group hopes to complete a trail from Cash Road to the Cheraw State Park, the railroad company has said the property purchase is an all or nothing deal. That means, if a deal is reached, the group would own the entire 12.8 miles of track all the way to Society Hill.
— Staff Writer Karen Kissiah can be reached by calling 843-537-5261, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.