By Kellen M. Quigley
Discussion of the maintenance of the Pop Warner Trail in the village continued at the last Springville Board of Trustees meeting, resulting in a temporary right of entry for the village to take care of the trail for 90 days.
At its June 17 meeting, the board authorized Mayor William Krebs to sign an interim right of entry agreement with Erie Cattaraugus Rail Trail (ECRT) or Buffalo Pittsburgh Railroad (BPR) for the village to continue to maintain the trail as it did before a new agreement was put in place.
“We must move forward,” the mayor said. “We’re dealing with a situation where Springville has no leverage in this. It’s not our agreement.”
According to Krebs, the agreement is contingent upon either ECRT or BPR providing evidence of the previous license or lease agreement showing either group can grant the village a right of entry onto the trail, which the village does not own.
“We need something now to get us at least through the summer so we can continue to cut the grass and maintain the trail,” he said.
Starting in 2009, the village began planning and developing the 1.7-mile section of the former BPR rail line that passed through the village, which became the Pop Warner Rail Trail. In October 2015, the village made an agreement with BPR to have the village maintain that portion of the ECRT.
However, in 2018, the BPR negotiated a license agreement with ECRT, which superseded the previous right of entry agreement with the village, which no longer legally allowed the village to continue maintaining the trail, explained Village Attorney Paul Weiss.
“The strangest thing is, we’ve talked to the railroad representatives and they say we can fix this,” Krebs said. “And I talk to ECRT board members, who I’ve worked with since 2010, and they say, ‘What’s the problem?’”
According to Krebs, if both groups want the village to continue maintaining the trail but neither will amend the agreement to allow that to happen, the agreement is flawed.
“This (interim right of entry) will at least get us moving,” he said. “For heaven’s sake, it’s our park, we designed it, we built it and it’s a good place and our residents use it.”
Board member Nils Wikman said things change and the village is no longer the lead agency with BPR. Although the village can give input, Springville doesn’t know what ECRT wants to do with the whole rail system or if they have different plans for the future.
“Hopefully, they will want to work with us,” Wikman said. “But if they don’t, unfortunately, they have the agreement with the railroad.”
Krebs disagreed with Wikman, saying after all the money and work the village and its residents put into the trail, they can’t sit back and just say it’s ECRT’s trail now.
“How can we betray the previous boards who voted in favor of this?” he said.
IN OTHER BUSINESS, the board approved a local law revising a section of code for the planting of trees in a public right-of-way.
Under the new law, no trees would be planted over any water, sewer, gas, electric or drainage line or system; under any overhead wires if not classified as a small tree with a maximum height of 30 feet; and no closer than 35 feet to any intersection measure from the edge of the pavement to the center of the intersection.
“I think it’s a good policy,” Krebs said. “I’ve lived on Main Street long enough to know what happened under the old policy.”
Additionally, the mayor said there is a tree replacement policy the village has in effect and wondered if the policy would be revised to reflect the updates to the code in the local law.