Girard railroad case progresses
City officials want to acquire property to develop bike trails
By Samantha Phillips
The city is working on an agreement with the owners of Genesee and Wyoming Railroad Inc. to acquire 41 acres for recreational space.
City officials hoped a judge would recognize a verbal agreement Girard had made with the railroad company to settle an eminent domain case that would allow the city to acquire the property for recreational use in November.
But Visiting Judge David Fuhry of Trumbull County Common Pleas Court denied Girard’s motion to enforce the agreement this month. As a result, the city vs. Youngstown Belt Railroad Co., Genesee and Wyoming Railroad Inc. case will continue. The next hearing has not been set.
Brian Kren, city law director, explained “the judge ruled that ultimately there was an agreement of principle but because there wasn’t proof of certain key elements, there wasn’t an agreement the court could enforce, so the case is still open.”
Genesee and Wyoming Railroad Inc., which owns the Youngstown Belt Railroad Co., objected to the agreement because it opposed a proposed grade crossing, according to court documents.
Girard Mayor James Melfi said the ruling was disappointing because the agreement would have ended the process.
Despite the slight setback, city officials are looking forward to wrapping up the case so they can begin developing bike trails that will eventually connect Girard with the Western Reserve Greenway.
Recreational space enhances quality of life for residents, the mayor said.
The eminent-domain case was filed in 2006, a year after Youngstown Belt, began planning to put a landfill on its property near the Girard Golf Dome property. The city sought to use the property for recreational space, however.
In 2015, the city acquired the 27-acre former Leatherworks property near U.S. Route 422. The railroad property occupies 41 acres and is adjacent to the Leatherworks property.
Though the railroad property would be completely for recreational use, portions of the Leatherworks property have been designated for recreational and commercial use.