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Landowners Opposed To Trails Will Meet Saturday

Last updated on Thursday, December 1, 2016

(EAST OOLITIC) - The Milwaukee Trail was established and the plans are for the trail to eventually stretch about 20 miles from Bedford to Indian Springs.

In March 2010, following the abandonment of the railway, the federal Surface Transportation Board issued a Notice of Interim Trail Use, reserving the right of way for future railroad purposes, if needed, and also granted interim use of the land as a public-access trail.

The Milwaukee Trail has become increasingly popular among hikers, bikers and runners.

Currently, the trail can be accessed from Lincoln Avenue to the U Street trailhead, a connector at Wilson Park and, heading west out of the Bedford city limits, at Coxton Road and near the Williams Dam.

The greatest portion of the trail is in the county, and not all property owners have embraced it. Commissioner Bill Spreen has expressed concerns about infringement of property rights in addition to safety and liability issues for the county.

As a result of the master plan, they announced to create a bike trail connecting Mitchell, Bedford and Oolitic, 74 affected property owners along the railroad beds have created a group called S.T.O.P. (Save Taxes and Our Property)

Tug Beal, one of the organizers, says the group has met and sent a letter to the Surface Transportation Board in Washington D.C. and other public figures about their opposition to establish trails on the abandoned railroad beds along their properties.

"They're looking to expand in several areas on county maps," Beal says. "A lot of us living here are going to be affected. We can't stand by... something needs to be done."

Landowners along the abandoned railway will meet on Saturday at the East Oolitic Community Center at 2 p.m. to discuss the issues they face.

"We have a lot of concerns," Beal added. "We also have concerns about their wishes to develop a trail park west of Peerless Road on the GM property that was cleaned up. It seems that no one is listening to our concerns. The citizens that live within the city limits of Bedford would not like it if this trail was going through their back yards."

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