Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Citizens Group Airs Concerns about Railyard Plan

News broke recently that Franklin & Marshall College, in partnership with Lancaster General Hospital and Norfolk Southern Railroad company, are considering moving the Dillerville Rail Yard switching station from its current location between the college and Clipper Magazine Stadium to an 11-acre stretch of land between the Little Conestoga Creek and Harrisburg Pike.

An organization of seven residents calling themselves The Railroad Action Committee (TRAC) gave a presentation to some 130 neighbors at Grace Baptist Church on Marietta Avenue, Tuesday night, laying out why they oppose the plan.

Each of the TRAC members argued that the proposed move jeopardizes the health and quality of life of residents in the residential areas immediately surrounding the site.

"This is not an anti-F&M or an anti-LGH campaign," said Kathy Ashworth, a TRAC member who lives on Farmingdale Road. "It is a campaign against the against the project as it has thus far been proposed and described."

"This will forever change the personality of our neighborhoods," she continued.

The group cited noise, light, diesel particulate matter, ground vibrations, personal safety, and disaster risk as major concerns.

Also, the proposed site currently has an industrial waste landfill, which would need to be dug up and filled in, and which the residents fear contains linoleum and asbestos.

Ashworth suggested that one of the college and hospital's primary motivations for wanting to relocate the switching yard is to increase property values around the Armstrong site the two entities are jointly developing.

TRAC proposed that the developers consider alternative options with the current track configuration, including housing the tracks or even having them go underground.

"What we need is a win-win situation and I don't think the proposed solution will do that for us," Ashworth said.

The group also circulated petitions to governmental representatives at all levels to conduct and environmental impact study on the proposed project.

F&M and Lancaster General Hospital are expected to hold a public information session in June in order to present a more detailed plan.

More details to follow.