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Warren County to seek proposals for railroad

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Anyone want a rail line?

Saratoga & North Creek Railway is weeks past its deadline to remove equipment from Warren County's rail line, as the county seeks proposals for use of the line.

Warren County is looking to see if anyone wants to lease or purchase the county-owned rail line.

As the company that formerly ran tourist and freight trains on the line continues to miss deadlines to remove its equipment from the line, the county Board of Supervisors plans to put out a "request for proposals" for use of the rails between North Creek and Hadley.

Horicon Supervisor Matt Simpson, chairman of the county Board of Supervisors Public Works Committee, said county leaders have heard from representatives of at least three potential operators who have expressed interest in use of the line. That includes the operators of Stony Creek Ranch, who want to use a southern portion of the rail to and from their business.

While the companies have reached out to some supervisors and "there has been a lot of talk," Simpson said the county board has "nothing in writing" from anyone about what they want to do on the rails. A request for proposals will require them to formally outline what they would like to do, and allow county leaders to evaluate the plans.

Some are pushing for conversion of the rail to a multi-use trail, and Simpson stressed that the Board of Supervisors had not plotted a course for the future of the rail corridor.

"Nothing has been decided," he said. "It's going to come down to what's best for Warren County and the region."

SNCR equipment remained on the Warren County line as of this week, more than a month after a deadline the county set for it to be removed. Kevin Hajos, the county's public works superintendent, said the company is "moving slowly" as it makes repairs to move its locomotives and cars south.

"I have been in constant contact with their person here on the ground," Hajos said. "The big thing for me is they are moving in the right direction."

The hope is that the line and "engine house" on county property in North Creek will be vacated by Sept. 1, Hajos said.

The town of Corinth owns the rail line between Saratoga Springs and Corinth, but it was unclear what the town's plans were for the line as of this week. Town Supervisor Richard Lucia has not returned repeated phone calls on the issue.

Corinth Town Board minutes show the board discussed "litigation" over the railroad at a May meeting, and that the railroad's former general manager, Justin Gonyo, met with the board July 12. Gonyo said he was representing his consulting company, Hudson Rail Consulting, at the time.

The minutes read as follows:

"Mr. Gonyo was before the board with a proposal for the railroad for the board to review, requesting that the town leave the rail lines open until another buyer can be found. Supervisor Lucia said the town was in the position to leave the lines open as there are many options still available to the community if left open."

Hajos said it was his understanding that SNCR has been moving its equipment from the Warren County-owned portion of the rails to the section of rail line owned by the town of Corinth.

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