Posted by: Ann Corcoran | January 30, 2012

Washington County rail-trail proposal part of larger plan to take property rights AND your freedom

Here we go again!  The statists in the environmental movement have plans for you and your property which they never give up.   While you are attending your kids soccer games, taking care of an aging parent, working to pay bills, or doing your laundry, they are constantly planning, day in, day out, year in, year out.

They think they are smarter than you, that they know what is best for all of humanity and in this case they think that a $16 million dollar (minimum price tag for grading 23 miles and rebuilding 14 bridges)* bike trail in Southern Washington County is just the ticket.  Never mind that it would affect the property rights of landowners for its 23 mile length!

I was shocked to see the news in Saturday’s Hagerstown Herald Mail, that a plan that was soundly defeated in 1993 and 1994 has once again reared its head—and in the middle of a statewide financial crisis to boot—to create a new 23 MILE biking/hiking trail in a county that probably has more trail miles then any county in Maryland; and it is actually being considered by a REPUBLICAN county commission!  What could they possibly be thinking?

Here is the story:

Sen. Christopher B. Shank said this week that he is “extremely concerned” about an idea for a 23-mile bike trail from Hagerstown to Weverton that is being considered by county officials.

The Washington County Board of Commissioners agreed Tuesday to reopen talks about building a “Civil War Railroad Trail” that would follow the former Baltimore and Ohio Railroad line from Hagerstown to Weverton.

The project was proposed in the early 1990s but abandoned amid widespread opposition from south county residents and other groups.

Shank, R-Washington, said he is concerned that the project would dramatically affect the people living along it.


The trail would link Hagerstown’s City Park with the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal towpath, passing the state prison complex and running through Keedysville, according to proponent Dick Cushwa.

Cushwa, a bicycle advocate with the City Bike Advisory Committee, appeared before the commissioners along with county Public Works Director Joseph Kroboth III and City Engineer Rodney Tissue to ask the commissioners’ blessing to initiate discussions about the project with state, federal and other interested parties.

Please read the whole article.  I was happy to see that some of the property rights advocates from nearly two decades ago are still kicking!

Because I tend to keep papers too long (ask my family), I dashed to my files and pulled out my folder on the controversy from back in 1993.  People who lived along the corridor were furious.  Some of their homes are within literally a few yards of the old railroad bed.   I wish there was some way I could get across to you (the readers) that I am shouting as I write this!

It is called ‘greenlining’:

These ribbons of trails that Washington DC environmentalists are threading throughout America are called GREENLINING (or greenways).   Back in the early 1970’s when the likes of Rep. Mo Udall (also the guy who locked up Alaska, btw) tried to get national landuse planning into federal law (and failed), the environmental statists switched to the concept of ‘greenlining’ to put national landuse in place piece by piece.

Rail-trails are one of the mechanisms they use.  Some local people may see the trail as innocuous (or as a boon to the local economy which will not be true in Washington County!), but what follows will be a clamoring for controls on the land in the VIEWSHED of the trail.   It won’t be long and the county will be pressured into re-zoning land along the trail, or the state will come in to buy more land.  Some yuppies from Washington, DC will say NO hog farms where I want to ride my bike!  And, damn, I don’t want to see old farm machinery or a lot of laundry hanging on peoples’ clotheslines!

And honestly there will be confiscation of private property as Washington County residents learned the hard way when the C & O Canal and the Appalachian Trail passed through their yards and farms many decades ago.

Part of O’Malley Plan Maryland and Agenda 21—you betcha!

Because conservatives aren’t interested in controlling people, we don’t think like the hard Left that is constantly strategizing about how to put their plans in place.  Consequently, we are always playing defense as schemes like this Weverton rail trail can sit dormant for decades and then reappear again when they hope the first opponents have begun to die off (and they have had more time to soften up the next generation in our miserable school system).

Here is what I mean.  I looked up the Rails to Trails Conservancy—its been around since about 4 years before the last time this trail idea raised its ugly head.  The groups longtime President is Keith Laughlin.  Here is his bio.  Check out the fact that he has a lifetime career in the “sustainable development” movement.

“Sustainable development!”  Where have we heard those words before?  Oh yeh!  O’Malley’s Plan Maryland!

Just for fun I googled ‘Keith Laughlin and Agenda 21.’  I wasn’t surprised to find this 2007 paper on “sustainable development” (a United Nations paper on Agenda 21) and how local governments can carry the water for the international (socialist) environmental movement.

Here is what they say about Laughlin on Page 10:

Biking and hiking trails are part of the overall mix in terms of open space and recreational amenities, and the main organization behind many of these initiatives is the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, headed by Keith Laughlin, who was Executive Director of the President’s Council on Sustainable Development and Deputy Director of the White House Council on Environmental Quality in the Clinton-Gore Administration. Part of the idea is to convert unused railroad right-of-way to biking and hiking trails, both in urban and rural areas.

Trails, like this 23 mile stretch through Southern Washington County, are all pieces to a larger plan to control us and take away our property rights and thus our freedom and we need to get it through our heads that the Left (Socialists and Marxists) never stop, they may go quiet for awhile, then they push again, but they never stop!

Good for you Senator Chris Shank for raising a red flag and shame on any Republicans who would entertain a project like this that is one more step to take land use decisions from local government and cede it to the state, the federal government and the United Nations.

Washington County Commissioners hired a lobbyist to fight Plan Maryland and then don’t immediately say NO to this backdoor property rights grab—go figure!

* This post would get too long if I addressed the financial part of the plan, but bear in mind that someone connected to the plan will benefit financially—maybe an excavating company or engineers—but because of requirements for minority workers for government contracts in Maryland, it might not even be any local contractors.  We call that corporatism, where businesses work hand-in-glove through insider knowledge with government.


  1. I call it cronyism. Hope your neighbors join together and object!

  2. […] and hiking trails (even before the Kelo decision).  That is why those of you along the proposed Washington County Rail Trail need to pay attention to the economically silly […]

  3. Acorcoran –
    You are an idiot. This type of project is exactly what we taxpayers should be promoting… Creating something that our children and grandchildren will use, enjoy and benefit from in the future, while creating jobs and opportunities for current prospective workers. Get your head out of the sand and go take a walk on one of Maryland’s wonderful trails. Maybe the fresh air will help your brain work better.

    • Austin, You Leftwing guys make me laugh—if someone disagrees with you, you call names. Last time I checked southern Washington County has the C&O Canal, the Appalachian Trail, new trails at Antietam Battlefield and trails at Greenbrier State Park—I’ve used them all and they are usually pretty empty. So why should taxpayers pay for yet another trail for a few users? And, don’t you get it, the government is broke!

  4. I support the rail trial. The state owns the land and the property owns along the old rail bed are encroaching by building sheds, parking cars and keeping livestock on public land. Look what the Western MD Rail Trail did for Hancock. The town is alive again. People are exercising and enjoying themselves.

    • And who is going to pay for the trail? You? The government is so flush with funds they don’t know what to do–right? I guess you and I have different ideas about the role of government and creating fun and fighting flab are not at the top of my list for spending taxpayer money.

      Also, I repeat, a lot of very very sad people lost their land and homes to create the Appalachian Trail, the C & O Canal towpath and Antietam Battlefield so modern day yuppies can bike ride and hike. Those trails are empty most days.

  5. […] I wrote a post when the biking trail first reared its ugly head in January.  I truly thought the idea was so ridiculous in light of every Maryland counties’ budget woes—Washington County is already under water with pension liabilities, just wait until the pension bills O’Malley has foisted on counties comes due—that they couldn’t be serious. […]

  6. […] I wrote a post when the biking trail first reared its ugly head in January.  I truly thought the idea was so ridiculous in light of every Maryland counties’ budget woes—Washington County is already under water with pension liabilities, just wait until the pension bills O’Malley has foisted on counties comes due—that they couldn’t be serious. […]

  7. […] I wrote a post when the biking trail first reared its ugly head in January.  I truly thought the idea was so ridiculous in light of every Maryland counties’ budget woes—Washington County is already under water with pension liabilities, just wait until the pension bills O’Malley has foisted on counties comes due—that they couldn’t be serious. […]

  8. […] proposal that citizens killed 20 years ago (LOL! When it was a plan concocted by Democrats) go here, and […]

  9. I’m another supporter of the rail trail and think you might consider what the benefits could be for our vastly overweight county population that suffers from chronic diseases like diabetes, which is directly linked to obesity. If people get out and exercise, walking and biking, they can lose weight and live longer and healthier lives. This is precisely the kind of amenity we need here and we and should be encouraging every way possible to make it happen. Please stop this paranoid ranting. Lots of people like this idea, and our county (thank goodness) has changed since people got so cranky about it 15+ years ago.

    • With all the trail miles in this county we should have no fat people.

  10. For the record…….I am a conservative….you don’t have to take my word for it but i am….so i am here to give you some advice. Before you go around making claims about peoples property rights being infringed upon and what not, you might want to do a little research first…….and stop making your fellow conservatives look bad. Did you know that all rail right of ways, at one point or another were taken by eminent domain? (many many many years ago) Did you also know that the right of way is usually 68ft wide or more? Did you know that when they build the trail it effects no-ones personal property……do you really think all the people along the railway own the land and lease it to the rail company? And if its now owned by the state like someone above has claimed than your allegations of the county having to pay for it are unreasonable… least try to know what your talking about

    • Dan, I doubt you are a conservative. A conservative would be railing about the obscene way the state of MD snuck in and made a deal with the railroad more than 20 years ago and “bought” the abandoned line. But, they bought it without a title search so what you don’t know is that eminent domain wasn’t used on very many properties at all and that there are holes presently in the states’ “ownership” of the line.

      We aren’t talking about the county buying the line (get your facts straight), this is about the county paying for the reconstruction of 20 plus bridges and for grading and paving and for maintaining this for eternity. And, the county says their “plan” calls for it to be completed by 2040 (imagine how the construction costs will rise in the decades ahead).

      A conservative would be furious that at this time of fiscal calamity for state and local government, anyone in their right mind (conservative or not!) would be saying ‘hold-on’ we can’t be spending money for biking hobbyists right now—we have teachers pensions we promised to pay.

      A conservative would be furious that a local govt. would invite the State DNR in to help with local planning.

      A conservative would be furious that an elected board (some of them), let an unelected bureaucrat free to pursue sneaking this by the landowners while working with a special interest group.

      As for people’s property rights—I would maintain that if the public will be free to come through people’s backyards and front yards any time of the day or night within yards of their doors, that those peoples right to the quiet enjoyment of their property will be curtailed.

      Where do you live, Dan, can we come over to your yard anytime and enjoy ourselves—maybe have a picnic there (as legitimate a hobby as biking)—we will try not to leave our trash or ask to use your bathroom.

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