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Landowner against trail
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Editor, We are against the proposed 68 miles of railroad bed being converted into a trail along the coast.
This was personally upsetting for me. I used to live on land that joins the old railroad bed. My first thought upon hearing about it was of the “2 to 3 million travelers” that would have access to the road. Did anyone do a study about how many homeless or hitchhikers will travel it? I lived off Highway 17 for a very long time. I was scared to let my kids play outside without me. There were so many people walking past. I was happy to get back to the “country.”   It’s pretty secluded. It would be very easy for someone to walk in my yard undetected, without neighbors around. What about our pond that is next to the bed? With access, will we have problems now with those “travelers” on hot days? What about the value of our property? Will it go down even further now if this trail is approved?
Next, where are all the environmentalist when we need them?  To convert 68 miles of railroad bed into a 10-foot wide concrete pathway fit for bicyclist, skaters, etc. right through tidal marshes over creeks in an undeveloped coastal environment would be awful. Concrete through unspoiled marshland, habitat of many native species will not be much of a home for them then. Will there be fences keeping the animals away from the travelers? If not, what about the wild animals like coyotes, foxes, bobcats or boar hogs?  If there are fences, how will the animals that cross the railroad bed have access to their food and water sources? We have a right-of-way to our home, using the railroad. More often than not, there are deer and rabbits on the trail when I turn in. What about the trash people will leave behind? Even with trash cans, we all know there are some that won’t use them.
Then, what about the hunters? Jones, Townsend and Cox are filled with hunting clubs. Many of the members have to use the railroad bed to access their hunting areas.  Another problem for them is shooting near the railroad bed. Obviously for safety there will be some restriction as to how far away they have be to shoot. It will also give access to those that don’t feel they need a membership to hunt on a club.
Another point that affects us as a county is that if Rails to Trails  gets their way, we will all assume the burden of upkeep. Their hope is for each county to lease the portion within their boundaries for only $1. Sounds great, huh? McIntosh taxpayers will then be responsible for the maintenance, security and emergency response of the trail. As if we need one more thing to take care of in this county. How will an ambulance get to a heart attack victim with only a 10- foot wide access filled with bikers, walkers and skateboarders?  Will the county be liable when it takes too long for them to get there and the person dies? What about the roads and highways that cross the trail? Who will monitor those?
What will the taxpayer cost be? I am not at all qualified to say just how much, but you can bet it won’t be cheap. Parking areas for the multiple access points, including upkeep for the restrooms and signs, costs money. In today’s economy, we can’t afford to waste tax dollars. The idea that the trail will bring in new businesses is just that, an idea. To have trailhead centers means to have access from a main road for the cars to get there in the first place. The old railroad bed runs through mostly woods in our county. Unless there are plans to purchase more land then there is only a few places to have access. And just how many bike rental shops can you have in one area? The most we can expect is a bed and breakfast, if that. With parking at the trailhead center most people will probably just drive to the existing motels, where there are places to eat.
If there is anyone else interested, please contact me. My home number is 912-437-4056 my cell is 912-230-3177 or you can e-mail me at hnaboone@hotmail.com. We all need to stand up and voice our dislike.

Holly and Greg Boone
Cox

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