Benton County, Oregon

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http://www.co.benton.or.us/read_news.php?aid=738
Printed on Sep 16, 2014 @ 10:26 AM

July 24, 2014

Comment period on Bailey Branch to close Aug. 8

Benton County has set Aug. 8 as the final day to submit public testimony regarding the Draft Bailey Branch Rail Corridor Management Strategy.

by Benton County

Benton County has been seeking public input on its management strategy for the corridor throughout the summer and community members have had opportunities to voice their opinions in writing, verbally and at two public forums in early July. That input will be taken into account when completing the final draft, scheduled to go before the Board of Commissioners in September. A draft of the strategy can be found online at http://www.co.benton.or.us/boc/bailey_branch_draft_strategy.pdf. An online survey also is available for those interested to register comments that way. It can be found at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/QLNM77M.

The county purchased the corridor -- which stretches from south of Corvallis to Monroe, with a spur stretching out to Dawson to the west, as well -- late last year for the purpose of preserving that corridor for potential future rail use, should the need arise. Now it is evaluating short- and long-term strategies for managing that public asset until it might be used for rail again. Public input is being gathered, and most suggestions so far fall into the following five options:

-- Railroad Use Only: Preserve and manage the corridor, as determined necessary and feasible, to only allow for future restoration of freight, passenger or excursion rail;
-- Develop Trails: Develop and manage walking, biking or riding trails within the highest priority locations of the corridor;
-- Maintain Current Condition and Uses: Complete minimal maintenance and existing public uses within the corridor;
-- Transfer of Corridor Location: Exchange the railroad corridor land ownership with private landowners, for equal land area that is in closer proximity to the current public right-of-way; and
-- Selling, Leasing, Granting Easements and Authorizing Work: Evaluate and complete sales or agreements where requested by adjacent landowners and other organizations.

Some or any combination of these general uses could potentially be employed. The Bailey Branch Rail Corridor Management Strategy will help guide current and future decision-makers regarding uses for the corridor that benefit the public. It will contain a detailed inventory of the property and identify issues as well as options and recommendations for potential long- and short-term uses of the corridor.

Comments can be submitted to the Benton County Board of Commissioners, ATTN: Rick Osborn, 205 NW Fifth St., Corvallis, OR 97330. Comments also can be submitted by email to rick.osborn@co.benton.or.us. A website about the strategy development -- complete with updated PDFs of pertinent documents and contact information to submit comments -- is available at http://www.co.benton.or.us/boc/bailey_branch.php.

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