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County hopes negotiations with railroad stay on track
The Morrison convenience center is experiencing leakage and Sanitation Department director Josh Roberts says putting in a septic tank would fix the problem, but they do not own the land. The land is owned by the railroad and Roberts told the Health and Welfare Committee earlier in the month that railroad officials were unaware the county is using their property. - photo by Bethany Porter

County Executive Jimmy Haley provided an update on the progress of developing agreements with the railroad regarding using their land for convenience centers and says many of their previous agreements have expired.

At a Health and Welfare Committee meeting earlier in the month, Sanitation Department director Josh Roberts told the committee the railroad was unware the county is using their property for convenience center sites. The committee made a motion to have the County Executive contact the railroad and either renew or create a contract, confirm what they can or cannot do, and if the needed to pay.

Haley gave an update on progress at a Building and Grounds Committee meeting Tuesday night.

“I am not going to say a whole lot about it, but I have met with the railroad and our attorneys pulled every agreement that we possibly can,” said Haley. “A lot of our leases and agreements on our convenient centers have expired. We don’t have any agreements with the railroad right of way and we have the TDEC issue where they are going to fine us if we don’t correct the leakage there at Morrison. It is leaking down into a stream and there is very little way for us to correct it and technically, well I wouldn’t say technically, it blocks the Tri-County Railroad in the right of way so they have an outsourced property management that does easements and assessments on properties.”

“Do you think the railroad is going to renew the agreement?” asked Commissioner Tommy Savage.

“We don’t have an agreement,” replied Haley.

“Well, it had something at one time,” said Savage.

“It was a gentlemen’s agreement,” answered Haley.

“Are they going to kick us out?” asked Savage.

“We hope not,” said Haley.

Haley says the convenience centers predate the current management company. Commissioner Robert Hennessee asked if there is a contingency plan in place if the railroad does not create an agreement. Haley said there is not a contingency plan yet and they are waiting to see what they can do with the railroad. He will be attending the railroad committee meeting in January and will bring it up then.

According to Haley, there is nothing in writing regarding the railroad agreement and he says there are other convenience centers on property that is privately owned. Haley also says he has been working on this for years.

“We are working on it. I had a couple of commissioners ask me about it and we are working on it. I have been working on it for several years so it has just come to light because of the TDEC finding the leakage here at Morrison and we have to do something to correct it,” said Haley.