LISBON - The Columbiana County Park District would like to make an abandoned portion of the former Youngstown & Southern Railway part of its bicycle trail, but the county Port Authority prefers using it in a way that would create jobs.
That was the gist of conversations park board President Dottie Betz said she recently had with Port Authority CEO Tracy Drake and Port Authority board President Steve Cooper.
"Their main goal is to make it active again. That's where it stands. If we could even come up with the money ... they stated they want to keep it an active line," she said of her conversations.
The park district operates the Little Beaver Creek Greenway Trail, a 12-mile bike trail connecting Lisbon and Washingtonville. The park board is also part of a regional effort to develop a bike trail extending from Lake Erie to the Ohio River by linking up the existing trails in Ashtabula, Trumbull and Mahoning counties.
As part of that effort, the board was looking at acquiring the 36-mile former Youngstown & Southern Railroad, which extends from Youngstown to Darlington, Pa., and is owned by the Port Authority.
The park would like to have obtained permission to turn the rail bed into a bike trail, which is what they did with the Greenway Trail. Betz said the Port Authority, while supportive of efforts to expand the Greenway Trail, would prefer selling the line so it can be used for commercial purposes.
The Port Authority has been trying to sell the rail line for some time but has been unsuccessful, although there is hope it may draw new interest because of the shale gas boom under way in the region.
In other park board news, Betz said they turned down a request from Hawkeye Research, which was seeking permission to run a waterline under the Greenway Trail near state Route 558 in Salem Township.
The waterline was to transport water from the Middle Fork of the Little Beaver Creek to the shale gas well drilled on the Weaver property. Betz said they turned down their request because of concern over the potential impact of using the creek as a water source to frack the well, which can take 5 million of gallons of water.