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Gainesville could close on CSX property by end of the year
Gainesville was supposed to close on this CSX midtown property Nov. 14., but it turns out gathering titles from the railroad is a difficult thing to do. - photo by Tom Reed

A property purchase key to the development of a greenway in midtown Gainesville has been delayed, but city officials say they expect to close on the old CSX railroad property by the end of the year.

For the past few months, city officials have held off on the purchase of the CSX property in midtown until the rail company cleaned up environmental issues in the old railroad maintenance yard, said Community Development Director Rusty Ligon.

"There were items there that were very typical of what you would find in and around a rail yard area; there was nothing unexpected that was found there," Ligon said. "And since we were going to be using that property for a greenway and park area, there’s a certain standard we had to meet to clean that property."

But once that cleanup was approved by the state’s Environmental Protection Division and the Nov. 13 closing date for the sale of the property neared, city officials discovered issues with some of the property lines, which further delayed the city gaining control of the property, Ligon said.

Now, the closing date will have to wait until the city completes further research on some of the deeds to the property, Ligon said.

"It’s railroad property; you’ve got some deeds going back 100-plus years," Ligon said. "We had a survey that was done a few years ago, and we’re just looking at a couple of minor discrepancies on some areas ... we’ve just got to do some further research to find out all we can to be sure all that’s accurate."

The CSX property purchase is key to the creation of the Midtown Greenway and the redevelopment of the district as a whole. Once complete, the greenway will include a mile-long, 12-foot-wide concrete path, landscaping and benches.

The future path, which will run from Athens Highway to Mule Camp Springs, will connect the Rock Creek Greenway on the opposite side of downtown to a future Central Hall trail.

It also may run through the property where the city is building the future home of its municipal court, police and fire headquarters near Queen City Parkway.

The goal of the greenway is to bring more green space to Gainesville’s midtown, and make it possible in the future for someone to go from Longwood Park to Elachee Nature Science Center without a car, according to Ligon.

A $100,000 grant from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources will support that goal. Once the city receives the title to the property, it will begin construction on the greenway using the grant, according to Gainesville City Manager Kip Padgett.

Ligon anticipates the deed research will be complete in time to purchase the property in the next month.

"We are anticipating closing by the end of the year," Ligon said.