NORWICH – Almost two years after the Chenango County Industrial Development Agency was awarded $4.7 million in federal grants for the restoration of the defunct Utica Main Line, hopes of having repairs to the railroad completed by the end of the year are fading.
The CCIDA (the economic development arm of Commerce Chenango) initially intended to see work done to the railroad as early as this spring. However, in a recent report to the Chenango County Planning and Economic Development Committee, unexpected snags in the project are causing delays, said Commerce Chenango President Steve Craig.
The biggest setback, Craig explained, has been a reoccurring change in staff at the northeast regional offices of the Federal Economic Development Administration (EDA). The EDA committed $4.7 million toward the project in June, 2013. But in the two years since, the Chenango County IDA has dealt with four different EDA reps, two lawyers, and two EDA regional directors.
“All the people who have ushered this project along over the last three years have changed which has caused some confusion,” said Craig, adding that legal issues which were once thought to be resolved have begun to resurface. Such issues include a request by the EDA to obtain a title opinion from every land owner where the 45.5 miles of the Utica Main Line crosses in the county – a process that would stall the project indefinitely and cost a significant amount of money. Craig said concerns over property and ownership were believed to have been resolved last year.