After an hour and a half of public comment and a 45-minute executive session, the Chautauqua County Legislature Wednesday night approved the sale of two parcels of an abandoned rail bed to adjacent property owners.
Supporters of plans for a hiking and biking trail along the rail bed lambasted the legislators for the vote.
The vote was 18-5, with two lawmakers absent. The measure also called for three additional miles of rail bed in the towns of Poland and Carroll to be sold at public auction.
Public comment before the vote was split between members and supporters of Rails to Trails, an organization that wants the rail bed for hiking and biking, and farmers and adjacent land owners who oppose the acquisition.
Speakers against Rails to Trails were concerned about what might happen to their properties.
Legislator Nancy Bargar, D-Lakewood, called for a cooling-off period so the two sides could negotiate the matter. Dr. Robert Berke, county health commissioner and Rails to Trails president, claimed there was a gentlemen's agreement in 1990 that if an organization was formed, it would have right of first refusal to rail-bed properties.
The lawmakers also heard County Executive Andrew Goodell in his State of the County message report 2.9 percent job growth in the county in 1994. He said the county was tied for fourth in the state for most job growth. The 2.9 percent totaled 1,600 new jobs.