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The town's mayor and a councilman proposed a land swap that could move the building to a county Dumpster site and move the Dumpsters to town land.
Thursday, September 19, 2013
Members of a group trying to save the former Norfolk and Western Railway depot in Boones Mill sought support Tuesday from the Franklin County Board of Supervisors.
Boones Mill Mayor Ben Flora and Town Councilman Mike Smith asked supervisors to consider endorsing a series of measures focused on saving the depot, built in 1917. They included a land swap that could facilitate relocating the abandoned building a short distance to what is now a county Dumpster site and moving the trash receptacles to town-owned land.
The depot’s current owner, Norfolk Southern Corp., has said the railroad is willing to donate the building but insists it be moved because the current location, close to adjoining tracks, could become a liability issue. Last year, a contractor hired by the railroad applied to the county for a permit to demolish the building. Norfolk Southern later agreed to give the town more time to pursue the depot’s preservation.
On Tuesday, Boone District Supervisor Ronnie Thompson asked his board colleagues to consider providing a letter of support sought by the Boones Mill Historical Committee. The committee told supervisors it must present a proposal to Norfolk Southern before Nov. 1 about moving and saving the depot.
Robin Chapman, a spokesman for Norfolk Southern, said “October 31st is the current deadline given to the town of Boones Mill to provide a timetable for removal [of the depot].”
Meanwhile, Don Smith, the county’s director of public works, told supervisors that the proposed land swap between the county and town would have pros and cons. The new trash collection site would be larger than the current location and the topography would be favorable for siting the Dumpsters and other collection containers, Smith said.
But Smith also described complicating factors.
The road to the new site would need work to support the heavy trucks that collect trash, and a few of the abandoned commercial buildings adjacent to the road would have to be demolished to widen it, he said. In addition, he said the new site is somewhat isolated and unlit and could present safety issues for residents dropping off trash. There would have to be plans for snow removal, he said, and the land swap might require environmental studies.
Supervisors Charles Wagner and Leland Mitchell expressed concerns about whether the county or town would pay for road improvements and other actions necessary to support the swap.
Flora told supervisors that the town is willing to do whatever it can to move forward with plans to save the depot, which might become a history museum for Boones Mill.
A letter to supervisors from Flora suggested that “partnering on this project will set the stage for a renewal of Boones Mill as a much more viable community in Franklin County.”
Ultimately, supervisors said they would consider providing the letter of support after additional review and discussion at the board’s Oct. 15 meeting.
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