Residents of Warren County are going to have to wait a while longer to find out what the county has been offered in exchange for use of its rail line.
The county has declined to release "requests for proposals" submitted by companies that want to lease or buy the county's railroad line. I filed a Freedom of Information Law request for them, as I explained here, and was told it was under review in early May.
County Administrator Ryan Moore gave this explanation last week, two weeks after responding to my FOIL request:
"At this juncture, disclosure of the RFP responses would place the County and Town at a disadvantage in the negotiating process. If the vendors we are considering have access to one another’s proposals, it will impact our ability to negotiate better financial terms as well as critical priorities for County and Town residents, including but not limited to storage of rail cars and preservation of longer-term recreational options including trail development. Additionally, the proposals contain detailed non-public financial information that we have been asked by the vendors not to disclose. As such, the RFP responses are currently protected from disclosure under Section 87(2) of the Public Officers Law."
With the exception of information that, if disclosed, might cause competitive harm to proposers, it is my intention to release these proposals publicly once the County and Town have secured an MOA or similar agreement with the successful vendor."
The town of Corinth owns the rails between Saratoga Springs and Corinth.
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But the town of Corinth supervisor's refusal to talk about any of this should be concerning to residents there as well. He has not returned repeated phone calls going back to last year, so unless you are attending Town Board meetings, you are probably as in the dark as we are about what the town plans to do with its rails.
Recent Town Board minutes (posted only through April 25) do show that the board has had limited discussion of railroad RFPs, but there is very little information in the minutes, and the RFPs have not been released. They do show that a company is interested in a "pedal car" tour business on the town-owned portion of rails as well.
On the plus side, the town of Johnsburg responded quickly to my FOIL request for information on the employment status of a town highway worker who went to jail for burglary. The employee, Daniel Hitchcock, son of the highway superintendent by the same name, is no longer employed by the town, I was told.
The town supervisor's refused to release his employment status, not saying why despite the fact that who works for a municipality is clearly public information. It's unfortunate I had to waste the town records access officer's time with a formal FOIL request in the first place.
-- Don Lehman