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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Op Ed: Do We Need a Bike Path or Just Want One?

Do We Need a Bike Path or Just Want One? 
by Johnnelle Raines

 The Pickens YMCA recently surveyed their members on the Pickens Doodle Rails to Trails proposal which is similar to the Swamp Rabbit Trail in Greenville.

Don't you think they should have surveyed the property owners along the proposed corridor first? Those property owner's privacy will be greatly impacted by this proposed bike/walk path.

How many of you would want an average of 800 people walking or biking behind or in front of your property on a daily basis?

To me, it comes down to the simple fact there are people who like to take from A (the property owner) and give to B (the people who want to go for a walk or bike without regard to the consequences of what they are doing to people's property rights and privacy).

The property owners on the suggested corridor have had peace and quiet for over ten years now with no train coming down the track.

And now, their quiet, peaceful use of their private property is going to be disturbed by the noise of construction, and ultimately thousands of strangers being able to see them as they grill out and enjoy family time with their children in their yards.

I have nothing against people enjoying riding their bikes or walking. But, I do have a problem with it when it affects someone's property rights and their pursuit of happiness.

As taxpayers we must ask ourselves, "Is this the best use of our tax dollars?" 

In these trying economic times we should be focusing on "needs" and not mere "wants."

Would a bicycle path be nice?

Sure it would!

But, when Pickens County is already nearly $400,000,000 in debt, is this a burden we want to take on?

Supporters claim "grant" money will be used. But, "grant" money is YOUR tax payments!

Then there is the legality issue.

Do we even know whether the original landowners sold these corridors to the railroad or just granted an easement of right of way?

The Justice Department has now lost more than 20 consecutive rails to trails cases in the past year and a half.

The two most recent are Ingram vs USA and Whispell Foreign Cars Inc. vs USA.

On June 5, 2012 Chief Judge Emily Hewett ruled,
“The property owner was the owner in fee simple of the property to the centerline of the land underlying the railway easement at the time of the taking and is entitled to just compensation." 
Do we really want our county to have the expense of lawsuits to settle claims?

The bottom line is that we as taxpayers need to decide if this is truly a "need" or just a "want" for our county and do we "need" it at the expense of taking away property owners' rights and privacy.

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