Posted by: Ann Corcoran | July 10, 2012

Washington County Commissioners vote NO! on Rail-Trail

Update 2:  Landowner lets the Commissioners have it belatedly, here  (or, did the H/M hold the letter for days).

Update 1:  Here is the longer version of the news from the Commissioners meeting yesterday.   Be sure to read the comments too.  I especially liked the one about what a backwards county we are because the Commissioners said NO (this time).

The Washington County Board of County Commissioners in a surprise move this afternoon voted unanimously to halt any further discussion of a 23-mile biking trail that would have bisected hundreds of yards and farms of Washington County citizens.

Here is the brief announcement by the Hagerstown Herald Mail:

The Washington County Board of Commissioners has voted unanimously to stop pursuing a possible 23-mile bike trail.

The plan, estimated to cost about $16 million, drew strong protests at a public meeting in Boonsboro last month.

Phase 1 of the Civil War Railroad Trail would have run from Keedysville to Hagerstown and would have taken about 13 years to complete, according to Joseph Kroboth III, Washington County’s public works director. Phase 2, from Keedysville to Weverton, would have taken an estimated 15 years more.

During a discussion on Tuesday about a Maryland Department of Transportation offer of $100,000 for a feasibility study, Commissioner William McKinley made a motion to end the county’s participation in the project.

McKinley said there were too many unanswered questions, so accepting the feasibility study money “would be wrong.”

“I have no support for this trail whatsoever,” Commissioner Jeffrey A. Cline said.

Everyone who was opposed to the trail, either from the standpoint of fiscal concerns or whose property rights were threatened, should immediately make a special effort to thank our elected officials—the County Commissioners and Senator Chris Shank—who have gone on record now in opposition.

Reach the Commissioners here:

Senator Chris Shank:

New readers:  If you have not been following this issue, please see our category Washington County Rail-Trail for background, here.


  1. They have unanswered questions? Don’t they want to know the answers?
    I know one thing. The landowners along the rail trail will still benefit from it. They can still keep vehicles, trash, livestock and buildings on this public land. I guess it does not have to be develop into a rail trail for me to hike it, it will just be harder to climb over the fences. Thanks for allowing me to voice my opinion on your site.

  2. Congratulations on your small victory.

    And I hope Joe was kidding about hiking the trail, because I’m sure hiking with a load of buckshot in your behind is quite painful.

    • Thanks Michael!

  3. Thank the County Commissioners? Really? For what? Attempting to save their political asses? If 200 hundred people had not shown up at a public comment meeting, and others hadn’t placed calls to mail call and written letters of opposition to the Herald Mail, they would be blowing our tax money, stealing those property rights and destroying the privacy of those people who would have been affected by the trail.

    I think a better question may be, why did they ever consider such a thing in the first place, attach a cute little “civil war” cannotation to it, and try to run it by us?

    Do the Commissioners not own property? Did they give one iota of thought to the fact that those property owners may not want their property taken away from them? May not want to lose their privacy? May not want their tax dollars used for such idiocy? Or did the commissioners think its ok to take property as long as its your property and not theirs?

    And don’t even get me started on the financial aspect of this or i’ll be writing all night.

    I won’t be thanking the County Commissioners. I will, however, be helping to vote them out next election.

  4. […] here, just for a little refreshing honesty and to wrap up with a smile, is reader Greg on the Rail Trail decision by the Washington County Commissioners yesterday.  Note that Greg’s comment makes my earlier […]

  5. Why thank the county commissioners? Because they’ll be more likely to listen to you next time and not tune you out, that’s why. Because sometimes it’s hard to say in effect, “I was wrong” and to undo what you were doing, that’s why. What’s the point of making enemies of them? You can vote them out or whatever you want next time — meanwhile, they are our commissioners for the next two-and-a-half years.

    This mentality drives me crazy — that unless an elected official is one hundred percent perfect (that is, agrees with you) then he’s trash. What we need to do is to show elected officials what we expect and what we want from them, to change their thinking so that they think first of representing us and not think at all of puffing up their image or becoming friends with the local hot shots. Here’s big news: There are no perfect people, and no perfect government officials. I hope the commissioners learned something from the citizen reaction. I thanked them right away as soon as I heard of their decision. It was the right thing to do, and I believe it was also the productive thing to do for our future.

    • We have two years to see if they learned anything.

      But, honestly, they are Republicans and they should have had the right instincts for this issue—both from a fiscal standpoint and a from the standpoint of defending the property rights of homeowners. And, at minimum they should have made the process open and transparent from the very beginning (which they most certainly did not)!

      I too thanked them, but Greg is right—if there had been no outcry which resulted from many people spending anguished hours of work and stress, this thing would be advancing at this very minute.

      And, if this is the only issue the Commissioners are wrong on (in the view of many) then yes, they deserve a pass this time, but,

      I guess we will see what they do going forward on the stadium and the senior center and who knows what other spending projects they have in mind. I just hope the Republican Commissioners don’t require too many citizens to have to give up precious time training Republicans to do the right thing.

      • There’s always another election. In the meantime, you can either try to work with them and pressure them or be as hostile as possible to show them how terrible they are. I choose the former.

        We’re always going to have to give up precious time training Republicans to do the right thing. Don’t you remember how upset people were with Reagan, all the time from the beginning to the end of his administration? He’s only a saint in retrospect. And he was the best we’ve had.

        What we should do now is to start scouting out the people we think will make the absolutely best commissioners next time around and get them to run. And they will disappoint us too, if we expect them to be everything we’re looking for.

  6. In most respects Ms. Warner is correct. They are our commissioners, we do have them for another 2 years or so, and we should keep our eyes on the issues and as she says, “work with them and pressure them,” but is that why we elect public officials, people that we have to watch like a hawk and pressure them into doing whats right?
    Yes, they are all republicans. Yeehaw!

    Again Ms. Warner is correct when she says that we need to start scouting out good people and convince them to run, which is a difficult, but necessary, vetting process.

    I will take issue with her one thing: Nowhere in my post did I use the word “trash.”

    • Right you are, Greg. “Trash” was my word. Here’s another thought I had: If someone is already politically sophisticated and experienced he’s likely to run for a higher office than commissioner. It might be annoying to have to educate our elected officials, but really, it’s our job. I have at times sent my elected officials links to articles that are relevant to issues they’re dealing with, such as studies on the uselessness of stadium projects for economic development. I sent one a link to the great article “The Ruling Class.”

      Remember, the commissioners are dealing with lots of issues, not just the ones that interest us. We need to focus them on our concerns and give them good arguments and facts. If we can educate them and not just force them to respond to pressure, we’ve accomplished something.

      As for future candidates, I would like Bill Wyvell to return as a commissioner. He was very sensible and frugal and did his homework. It would be good to have someone with his attitude plus his experience. One thing I don’t want is a brand new board with all inexperienced people.

  7. […] he then tell the Commissioners it must be decided immediately?), and after a brief discussion, the Commissioners voted unanimously to stop any further planning of the […]

  8. […] Engineer Tissue worked closely with county engineer Joseph Kroboth in drafting and promoting that disastrous Rail-Trail plan that was shot down in July in Washington County.  The Mayor and Council of Hagerstown were also trail pushers.   One begins […]

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