Hamlet to pay CSX for building on its property

The question is how much and when

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

HAMLET — No one seems to be able to say exactly how it happened, but one thing is clear: The city of Hamlet is going to pay.

This Google Maps image shows, in yellow, the portion of CSX-owned property on which the city of Hamlet put down a parking lot. The price tag could be in the neighborhood of $160,000. Click on image for larger version.

This Google Maps image shows, in yellow, the portion of CSX-owned property on which the city of Hamlet put down a parking lot. The price tag could be in the neighborhood of $160,000. Click on image for larger version.

A renovated and fully restored Hamlet Depot, located at 2 W. Main St., has become a centerpiece of tourism, attraction and conversation since the $11.7 million restoration and relocation project was completed in 2004. The problem is some of the parking area for the Hamlet Depot and the Visitors Center was built on CSX-owned property.

According to GreatAmericanStations.com, CSX sold the station to the city for $1. “By April 4, 2003, the station had moved 210 feet across the tracks to its new foundation and been stabilized. Renovations began that summer and completed by the fall of 2004.”

There remains only one problem: A portion of the land on which the city paved a parking lot for the Visitors Center, as well as across the street at the Hamlet park, is still owned by CSX.

The issue has been discussed by Hamlet Mayor Bill Bayless and City Council members in executive, or closed, session numerous times in recent months. Councilman Johnathan Buie, a CSX employee, has not participated in any of the discussions on the issue.

The price tag for what is known as the Palmetto Wye property, which is nearly one-fifth of a mile in length and cuts through the Main Street park parking lot and abuts the Tornado Building, could be roughly $160,000. Bayless said there is federal and state grant funds ready to pay 90 percent of the portion — once a price is agreed upon. Bayless noted Tuesday night, however, that those funds might not be around forever. It’s a case of use it or lose it, he said.

“None of us really know how that particular area (was) paved on CSX property,” Bayless said of a council that is largely comprised of people not currently in office. “The (state) Department of Transportation had intention to buy it to start with, it just never did get bought.”

Kristin Seay, with CSX Corporate Communications told The Pee Dee Post by email that her company is working with the city and the North Carolina Department of Transportation to complete the sale of the CSX property.

“We understand the importance of this property to the city and the investment already in place and will continue to work toward an agreement that is acceptable to all parties,” Seay said.

Bayless said city officials were told the area had to be resurveyed, a task taken on by the state. Then the city will be required to approve a resolution to purchase the property.

“We’ve got to have that piece of property,” Bayless said.

The city’s match, regardless of the price, will be 10 percent in a budget already strained. Bayless did not confirm the $160,000 figure but noted it is one that “has come up” in discussions. Bayless said Tuesday night that the city has not had recent discussions with CSX about the issue.

City officials plan to conduct a mid-year budget review beginning at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at City Hall. The session is open to the public.

Filed in: Featured News, Hamlet, Latest Headlines, News

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