The council passed a resolution at its Tuesday meeting asking the McClellan Development Authority to give an abandoned railroad spur to the city for use as part of the bicycle trail system. The 3,500-foot spur, which formerly served Fort McClellan from the Norfolk Southern railroad, extends from the main rail line to Alabama 21 at Baltzell Gate Road.
“This is a proactive step,” said Councilman Jay Jenkins, who presented the resolution to the council.
The city is now tasked with acquiring the property along the seven miles of rail line that extends from the end of the Chief Lagida Trail in Weaver south to the multi-modal depot on West 4th Street in Anniston. Ownership of the rail right-of-way reverted to the adjacent property owners when the railroad abandoned the lines.
“I think we’re getting pretty close there,” Jenkins said of the ongoing property search. “We’ve pretty much identified our property owners. We’re going to move here pretty quickly into an acquisition stage.” City Manager Don Hoyt said the most recent report from Ed Isom, whose firm is conducting the property search, identifies at least 840 acres — about 1.3 square miles — of property to be acquired along the former rail right-of-way.
Although the spur sought by the city extends eastward past Alabama 21, Hoyt said the city won’t seek to continue the Ladiga Trail spur along the railway into McClellan because the former tracks extend into Cane Creek Golf Course. Instead, future bike-friendly pathways into McClellan could be achieved with a new traffic signal with pedestrian crossing at Baltzell Gate Road and bicycle lanes with signage on routes through McClellan.
Robin Scott, executive director of the McClellan Development Authority, said such an extension of the Ladiga Trail would “be a benefit to McClellan and future development there and a future benefit to the city.”
Scott said he didn’t expect any resistance to the MDA granting the city’s request. “As a matter of fact, we offered that spur line as part of a group of parcels the city was interested in a year or so ago,” he said, noting the measure never materialized. He said he expects the authority will handle the request at its next meeting on April 24.
In other business, the council:
• Authorized City Manager Don Hoyt to negotiate the scope of work and fee with J.R. Wilburn & Assoc. for preliminary engineering work for Monsanto Road. The road will lead to the proposed trailhead park to connect to the Coldwater Mountain bike trail system.
• Authorized Hoyt to enter into an agreement on behalf of the Anniston Calhoun County HOME Consortium with the Northeast Alabama Community Development Corporation.
• Authorized city staff to enter into contract negotiations with consulting firm ACP for strategic planning services.
• Authorized reimbursements to city officials for expenses incurred while traveling outside of the city.
• Passed a resolution overruling objection to abatement of a declared nuisance at 905 Hillyer High Road.
• Declared a group of properties public nuisances.
• Authorized the closing of 11th Street between Gurnee Avenue and Noble Street from 1:30 p.m. until 11:30 p.m. on April 26 for a prayer vigil.
• Learned from Hoyt that tearing down the old theater at McClellan for parking and recreational amenities adjacent to the Anniston Aquatic and Fitness Center would be paid for with leftover bond money rather than carried out by city employees, as he had said on Monday.
Staff writer Paige Rentz: 256-235-3564. On Twitter @PRentz_Star.