Swanton Council questioned on railyard project

By Drew Stambaugh - dstambaugh@civitasmedia.com

Area resident Karen Underwood spoke before Swanton Village Council last Monday asking members if they were still pursuing avenues against the Norfolk Southern railyard project.

Underwood suggested that the village could have joined with Swanton Township to fight the project.

“To my knowledge, they (Swanton Township) negotiated with the railroad and made it possible for them to close Scott Road,” said councilman Mike Rochelle. “They did exactly the opposite thing that you asked us to do.”

Hoelzle added that the village attorney had been in contact with the township’s attorney.

Swanton Township officials have contended that they had to make a deal with Norfolk Southern because the village and school board did join with the township.

At last week’s meeting, trustee Rick Kazmierczak said he offered Swancreek Township’s help in dealing with the railroad project to Swanton Township. “Swancreek offered help. We never, never got a phone call from any elected official in Swanton Township, saying, ‘Help us.’”

He said Swanton Township did want money from Swancreek, but Swancreek could not give them money due to their attorney’s relationship to a NEXUS pipeline attorney. “In all good conscience, I cannot, or none of the Swancreek Township Trustees, could agree to give money to a firm that is representing the pipeline coming through our township.”

He told Underwood he didn’t know what else they could have done. “I offered and offered and offered, and was never asked for help.”

Councilwoman Diane Westhoven said a barrage of negative comments made it difficult to work with Swanton Township.

“You get to the point where you really have a hard time trusting people,” said Westhoven of Swanton Township officials. “Whose interests are they looking out for?”

Underwood suggested maybe trying to get the railroad to fund a stoplight at what could become a dangerous intersection at Hallett Avenue and Chestnut Street (Brindley Road).

“Once we did the resolution, we did nothing more with the railroad,” said Westhoven. “And this is public knowledge; the township did not make a resolution.”

She added that with Swanton Township not making the resolution, they were able to continue to negotiate with the railroad.

Hoelzle finished by saying that there are things that the village attorney is working on. And, just because officials are advised not to speak at public meetings, it doesn’t mean things aren’t happening behind the scenes.

By Drew Stambaugh