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Boardman steamed over railroad blight on Columbiana Port Authority line

Published: Sat, July 9, 2011 @ 12:10 a.m.


The Vindicator ( Youngstown)

Boardman Township Administrator Jason Loree assesses the amount of trash along the former Youngstown & Southern rail line in the township.


The Vindicator ( Youngstown)

Boardman Township Administrator Jason Loree assesses the amount of trash along the former Youngstown & Southern rail line in the township.

Boardman officials try to stop ‘eyesore’ in its tracks

By Ashley Luthern



Township officials say they’re fed up with trash and railroad cars along the former Youngstown & Southern rail line, but railroad officials contend they are doing their part to keep it clean.

Trustee Chairman Thomas Costello, township Administrator Jason Loree and Zoning Inspector Anna Mamone said they all have contacted the Columbiana County Port Authority, which owns the rail line, about the litter and cars to no avail.

“It’s an eyesore,” Costello said. “All those trains are to be tarped. We’re lucky if half of them are tarped.”

Tracy Drake, chief executive of the port authority, said the railroad company that uses the line should respond to complaints.

“I would like to see [the line] operational and successful and also a good neighbor,” he said.

Powell Felix, president of the Indiana Boxcar Corp., which has crews and engines on the railroad, said that hopper cars have netting across the top to prevent items from flying out and are stored temporarily on sidings — extra pieces of track that enable trains on the same line to pass each other.

“Unfortunately, the line doesn’t have many sidings. They are where they were 100 years ago,” Felix said.

As for the trash, Felix said the railroad primarily has hauled construction and demolition material to a landfill in Negley, Columbiana County, and doesn’t create the type of trash township residents and officials have complained about.

“I’m not saying something could never come off,” he said. “... If it did, we’d be glad to come take care of it, but the cars have not had any significant history on leaving a debris field.”

Felix was surprised to hear the cars on the siding called an eyesore.

“The railroad’s been there long before any of those houses were there. If you build or buy a house by the line, expect to see railroad cars,” he said.

About 11 years ago, the port authority was granted state funding to repair the 36-mile line from southern Youngstown to Darlington, Pa. From 1996 to May 2001, no trains ran on the tracks.

“For the port authority, this has been a difficult project all the way through,” Drake said.

Around the same time that the port authority gained control of the tracks, Boardman Park had secured a grant to convert the line into a hike-and-bike trail with the condition that it be changed back to rail lines if needed.

“Given my choice of trash train or a hike-and-bike trail, I’d take the hike-and-bike trail,” Costello said.

Costello was a trustee when the port authority took over the tracks, a move he opposed then.

“We’re keeping a train system to haul trash from the East Coast that blocks the single largest thoroughfare in Mahoning County twice a day,” Costello said, referring to U.S. Route 224.

Drake said that the line is used to transport between 3,000 and 5,000 boxcars per year, “quite healthy for a regional railroad.”

Asked if the railroad has promoted economic growth, Drake said, “As the economy and companies’ needs change, companies move in and out, and the ability to access the railroad can be important.”

When taking over the line, the port authority listed nearly a dozen businesses that expressed interest in using the railroad. Penn-Ohio Recycling Inc. became the main customer, taking construction waste to Negley. A manager at Crouse Mills True Valley in North Lima said the store uses the line occasionally throughout the year for bagged goods such as mulch. A representative with Wester Fuel & Supply Co. out of Youngstown said the company uses the railroad about once every six months.

Two of the biggest customers were expected to be Boardman Supply Co. and R.L. Lipton Distributors, according to past media accounts.

Boardman Supply Co. changed owners in 2002, hauling a few times on the rail line, and became Boardman Concrete and Builders, which has since closed.

Walter Kohowski, operations manager for R.L. Lipton on McClurg Road, said in his six years at the company, the railroad spur that could attach the building to the main line has not been functional. In addition, shipping preferences for breweries have changed.

“The major breweries have expanded, and smaller breweries throughout the country are brewing for each major supplier, so you get your product faster by truck,” Kohowski said. “... Today, I will receive beer that was bottled and canned yesterday. It’s [about] freshness.”

Although not as many businesses as were expected are using the tracks, township officials want those who do haul freight and the railroad operators to keep the line clear of debris and extra boxcars. Mamone said she has fielded complaints from residents about the railroad cars dropped off near the Boardman Park entrance. Loree has led volunteer groups on trash cleanups along the line.

“What has it done for Boardman Township other than be an eyesore and not a good neighbor?” Costello said.


1timOthy(802 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

Drake seems to get the ball rolling then disappears. The same can be said for his dealing with (GOP Pres.) Dave Johnson and his brick yard in Summitville,Oh. He bought the plant for a dollar to get asbestos kills removed with a Grant. Then he'll sell it back to Johnson for a Dollar without any open bidding from the PUBLIC ! It's about as Cult as you can get. Those trains are suppose to covered so fine the Company for not doing so. Don't wait on Drake he seems to be sleeping with Companies and Republicans !!!! Chamber of Commerce will be next . Another Parasite !

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2ytownsteelman(680 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

Boo Hoo! This railroad has been there since 1903, and is not nearly as busy as it has been in years past. Its not going anywhere, so stow your NIMBY attitude and accept the railroad!

Drake is wrong about the 3,000 to 5,000 cars per year. The line has been moribund for the past year and hardly moves 10 cars per month. Felix is losing his shirt continuing to operate this railroad.

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3hellokitty(161 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

Uh, Boardman, you folks have much more serious blight than a few box cars and rundown tracks......so if the train cars are tarped in blue or grey, we won't see them? Ha ha ha! Thanks for the morning funny ;)

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4Millie(192 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

What about the eyesore at Washington Blvd and Southern Blvd with the barricades at Boardman Steel. Trustees help solve that problem and work on your budget and quit with the scare tactics.

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5moveon(1 comment)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

Totally agree Millie, but you have to admit, the bright neon color's and the artistry of a three year old must make that sign maker proud!

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6MOLOCH(21 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

the railroad was there before any of those whining ~ lets close the line and put people out of work because you don't like looking at the train cars ~ you don't like them ~ leave ~ people throw garbage everywhere not the train ~ have the prisoners clean it up.

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7Freeatlast(1991 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

With all the trash walking around out here . we are going to worry about some box cars . Get real and open your eyes ,you live in New Ytown not some suburb

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8bmanresident(607 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

I agree with Freeatlast. The trash that comes from Youngstown puts these railroads to shame! Just go and get your car washed and see what I mean

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9Bigben(1996 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

I don't blame people at all for not wanting trash blowing off the train or from from individuals. Quite frankly I don't like out of state trash coming through here .Let the North east deal with their own trash problems or develop better recycling facilities why should we be the dumping grounds ?

Sure the rail lines are old but let us remember that in the past the trains brought needed freight or passengers to and through the area not trash.Let us also remember some of the folks who moved in between 1996 and 2000 would not have had a working rail road around at that time.

The ideal situation would be to keep the trains moving thorough without the trash and be used for freight .We have more than our share of trash dumps around how about some serious recycling centers.

In the meantime keep the trains covered , don't leave the cars laying around "sided " for extended periods of time and start fining individuals for littering as well.

It is pretty irritating to see folks tossing trash out of cars including cigarettes. It is rude at best.People that litter are pigs and people that tolerate it will soon live in a pig pen so lets back folks who like things clean.if you like trash go hang out at the dump .

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10Bigben(1996 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

"you live in New Ytown not some suburb" - - Ah no we live in a suburb and the Youngstown problem is solving itself through migration to other corners of the globe.

If you like living in trash then go live in the super fund site in Poland Ohio / Bessemer PA .

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11YtownSports(306 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

Is the railroad responsible for the trash we see on the streets nowhere near the tracks? Clean up your own house before criticizing someone else's.

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12Bigben(1996 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago


"Is the railroad responsible for the trash we see on the streets nowhere near the tracks?"- -- I don't think anyone with sense would argue that the trash can blow off the train and where ever the wind decides to take it.

It isn't an either or option.People need to be prosecuted for littering and the railroad needs to keep the trash from blowing off the train.Anyone who would argue with this statement is simply senseless.

An illogical argument would look something like this there is litter on the highway so the trash train should be permitted to trash neighborhoods.That is stupid on its face.

Sense one illegal act exists that is more difficult to enforce lets allow another illegal act to exist which would be easier to enforce.

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