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Property owners helping with rail route for greenway
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As city officials try to locate former CSX railroad property lines to build a greenway in Midtown, local property owners are helping as much as possible.

Officials sent paperwork to the owners about a month ago, outlining where they think the property lines fall. Some lines can't be determined with the old railroad records, and City Attorney James Palmour filed court documents late Tuesday to ask a judge to make the final call.

"If the owners disagree with us, they can bring it before the Superior Court, and a judge will decide," said City Manager Kip Padgett. "If not, they don't have to respond, and the judge will approve what we have listed."

City officials have pursued the property for six years and invested in extensive environmental cleanup before purchasing it in December 2009. Public Works Department crews started paving part of the walkway this week, and construction should be completed in a year and a half.

"I certainly don't have any problems with the property line. It's such a benefit for the city because of the trail that'll be going down to the lake," said Alvin Gibson, president and CEO of Gibson Dental Designs. "It's in an area where the city has spent a lot of money to make land that never would have been used into a better parcel. It was all grown over, and homeless people were living in it at one time."

The line doesn't encroach on the space he uses for business, Gibson said.

"The land that is in dispute and people are talking about is land the property owners wouldn't be using anyway," he said. "It may affect some businesses into town, but I would give up some of my property to make the city look better. I'm glad to see the city doing it, and it should have been done years ago."

Kenneth and Vera Neidenbach, who own a warehouse along the property lines, also didn't express concerns about their property.

"I think the greenway is going to be very nice," Vera Neidenbach said Wednesday. "I hope people use it."

The 12-foot-wide pathway will stretch from Mule Camp Springs to Industrial Boulevard and will include part of the old rail yard behind the city's new Public Safety facility. It will connect the Rock Creek Greenway on the opposite side of downtown to a future Central Hall trail.

"Our property line is at the actual building, where it is built at an angle, but it follows the railroad easement, and we have no problem whatsoever. We're not even going to respond to the papers," said Dan Summer, a Gainesville attorney and chairman of Summer Historic Acquisitions.

"I think it's reasonable for them to go through and ID the lines for title insurance. Frankly, I'm impressed with the city's efforts, and I don't want to do anything to impede the project, which is good for all of Gainesville and improves the value of our property."