MOUNT VERNON — Old railroad properties have been much in the news lately, as county officials have tangled with historical, sketchily documented railroad property issues. Another one was brought to the board of commissioners by Gary Gray, owner of the property at 500 S. Main St., currently home of a pizza shop, an auto-restoration shop, a landscape business and storage units.
Last year, Gray almost completed a deal to sell the property to a retail operation which was going to build a drug store on the site. In the process of having surveys completed, the retailer noticed that part of one of Gray’s buildings currently lies on the right of way from a long abandoned railroad track later purchased by the county for potential use as part of a bicycle trail. The drug store construction would have removed the building on the right of way, but the store’s parking lot would still have covered the spot, so the retailer proposed swopping another piece of land with the county in 2008, to which the county agreed.
The retailer later in 2008 put its plans on hold due to the recession, but as a courtesy to Gray, and to streamline future discussions if they or some other retailer purchases the property, they recommended he go ahead and settle the right-of-way issue with the county.
Gray offered to have the original proposed agreement between the county and Fergus and Co., the retailer, retyped substituting Gray’s corporate business name, DBGII. The commissioners said that this might be a possibility, though they also felt they should perform due diligence and tour the site first.
Also at issue was that the right of way shift, as originally planned, would involve donation of some land and the old abandoned railroad bridge by Mark Ramser to the county, which may or may not still be available. Part of the drug store plan would also have involved placement of a traffic light at the entrance to the property and a crosswalk stretching from the future bike trail railroad right-of-way over to the Station Break senior citizens’ center. This would be a step toward the desired problematic goal of linking the Kokosing Gap Trail with the still forming Heart of Ohio Trail.
The commissioners told Gray not to worry, that they had no intention of enforcing the old right of way any time soon, and that they were confident some sort of agreement could be worked out.
Further meetings will follow.