In the world of land acquisition, it’s a question of “who owns it?”
Those working to make the Rails to Trails project a reality have come across some unexpected problems regarding previous land ownership, Cheraw Town Administrator Mike Smith told Cheraw Town Council members at Tuesday’s meeting.
“At this point they’re still not sure what they’re planning on doing,” Smith said.
Councilwoman Jacqueline Ellerbe-Shannon said she had been doing some research on abandoned railways.
“What I’ve learned,” said Ellerbe-Shannon, “is that in some cases property has reverted to the original owners.”
If that’s the case, said Shannon, “seems like we should get our property back along ACL Avenue, Howard Street and out towards Cash.”
Smith said he had also heard of that and the research he’s done indicates the original property deeds in that area at the time the railway was constructed, were destroyed by fire at the Chesterfield County Courthouse during the Civil War.
Smith also said he will continue to negotiate with the railroad company to see what progress can be made in acquiring the railway.
“When you look at ACL, it can’t belong to anyone but the town. Who else could claim it?” asked Ellerbe-Shannon.
Council members are expected to approve construction bids for minor woodwork repairs, and painting of each of the four buildings on the Town Green at next week’s regular council meeting. Cheraw Mayor Andy Ingram said he wanted to be sure the contracts were given in time for the work to be completed before Spring Festival.
The Cheraw Community Center and the Theatre on the Green are in need of some roof repair work. Smith told council members he was not pleased with the cost estimates he had gotten on the two buildings and planned to seek more. The figures he gave were $4,200 for the Community Center and $1,200 for the theater.
Ingram reminded council members of their retreat at Cheraw State Park set for Jan. 30-31. Each year council sets aside this extra time to reflect on the past year’s success or failure, and plan strategies for the coming year.
“I look forward to working with this council in 2014,” said Ingram. He also told council members the fact that three of the six members of council were re-elected to office in 2013, “is evidence of the good job ya’ll are doing.”
— Staff Writer Karen Kissiah can be reached at 843-537-5261, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.