Free Daily Headlines


Set your text size: A A A

Transylvania County remains neutral on Ecusta Trail

The Transylvania County Board of Commissioners issued a statement saying it's "uncomfortable taking a position" on the proposed Ecusta Trail until legal and operational details are better known.

The statement, issued on Monday morning by Chairman MIke Hawkins, goes on to say that because the county does not own or control the rail line, it takes no position on whatever Watco, the rail line owner, chooses to do with the property.

The statement came four days after the state Board of Transportation awarded a $6.4 million grant to Conserving Carolina, the Hendersonville-based land trust that is expected to work with the Friends of the Ecusta Trail, the Henderson County Tourism Development Authority, local government and others on the project. The grant requires a local match of $1.6 million. The Ecusta Trail has the support of elected bodies in Henderson County, the TDA, Pardee UNC Health Care and Advent Health, nonprofit organizations and corporations. In a survey conducted as part of a master plan for bike-pedestrian paths in Henderson County, 94 percent of respondents said they supported greenways.

Here's the full statement from the Transylvania County Board of Commissioners:

"Over the past several years Transylvania County government has been neutral on the Ecusta rails to trails concept because the rail line is owned by a private company which has been actively marketing its asset for rail use.

"In addition, this specific rails to trails concept has legal and operational pieces for which significant due diligence remains, which has also caused the Board of Commissioners to be uncomfortable taking a position.

"The Board of Commissioners considers this rail line a key component of economic development infrastructure for our county. That said, the Board has never had ownership or control over the rail line and does not typically take positions on the business activities of property owners as long as they meet all applicable laws. Watco is free to value and utilize its asset however it sees fit, within federal, state and local regulations.

"As an organization, we look forward to continuing to support Watco or any subsequent owner to navigate decisions regarding usage of the asset as an economic development driver for our county and region."