City and county agree to split ownership of former rail lines | News | The Press and Standard
by The Press and Standard | September 7, 2017 5:00 pm
Last Updated: September 6, 2017 at 11:46 am
By GEORGE SALSBERRY
The county’s agreement to sell the county-owned public parking lot to the City of Walterboro will also allow the two governmental bodies to get rid of some red tape.
The proposed agreement will also address the city-county joint ownership of the abandoned rail line that runs alongside Green Pond Highway between the ACE Basin Parkway and Walterboro.
The abandoned Atlantic Coastline Railroad line was purchased through the use of a state grant in 1992 and is jointly owned by the city and county.
That joint ownership, Colleton County Administrator Kevin Griffin explained, has made it cumbersome and time consuming to address issues concerning the abandoned rail property.
Whenever an issue or request comes up, it would first have to be presented to the railroad commission composed of city and county officials.
After the commission comes up with its recommendation, the question has to be approved by both the city and county councils.
Under the new plan, the county will have sole ownership of the portions of the abandoned rail line in the unincorporated portions of the county, and Walterboro will have sole ownership of the abandoned rail line within the city limits.
The move could basically eliminate the need for a railroad commission, but Griffin is unsure if it will be dismantled.
Both the city and county have plans for the abandoned rail line.
The county has started turning the rail line in the county into a bike-hike trail that officials hope will eventually follow the Green Pond Highway from Green Pond to the Walterboro City Limits. The first 1.83-mile portion of bike-hike trail, named the ACE Trail, has been completed from its starting point near Folly Creek Lane in Green Pond.
The work was funded by a $130,000 grant from the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism and approximately $50,000 in county funds.
The next step will involve the county undertaking the work to turn a three-acre parcel of land near Folly Creek Lane into a parking area for the trail. County work crews will be able to do much of that work and officials hope it can be completed before the end of the year.
The next portion of the trail, which will take the trail from its current end closer to Ritter Road, will have to wait until the county can obtain another grant from the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism. The state department is not expected to have new grant money available until 2019 or 2020.
In Walterboro, officials are looking at the possibility of turning a portion of an abandoned rail line near Klein Street into a trail between the Discovery Center and the Wildlife Sanctuary.