South Georgia Rails to Trails, Inc. (SGRT) , a Georgia non-profit corporation, regretfully announces the unfortunate necessity to file a civil complaint against the City of Albany (City) for breach of contract.
In 2015, SGRT contractually agreed to convey to the City of Albany 13.62 linear miles of a former railroad corridor consisting of 185.5 acres of real estate in exchange for $150,000 and the City’s written obligation and promise to build a multi-use recreational trail from Albany to the City of Sasser. The construction of the entire trail was to be completed within five years – by the date of May 14, 2020. Following the conveyance and through May 14, 2020, SGRT worked diligently with City to uphold its responsibilities under the Agreement through the joint funding of a $31,600.00 Master Plan submitted on September 2, 2016 entitled “Albany-Sasser Rail Trail Corridor Study, Branding and Implementation Report” (the Master Plan). The Master Plan called for the trail to have an asphaltic surface in order to accommodate multiple users. The City prepared detailed engineering specifications for the trails construction in accord with the Master Plan and SGRT agreed with the engineering specifications in a letter to the City. The City then requested bids for construction of the Lee County and Dougherty County portions of the trail on two separate occasions; however, the City never accepted the bids in order to proceed with trail construction.
In 2015, The City of Albany had an immediate need and desire to provide customers in rapidly growing Lee County with natural gas and fiber optic internet service. The City also needed to access additional natural gas pressure from a gas main line located at Armena Road in Lee County near the rail corridor for the purpose of allowing for the stabilization and increased gas pressure in the existing system in north Albany as well as for providing additional capacity to the Albany system. The utility lines were quickly placed underground in the corridor shortly after the 2015 Agreement was executed and the City is now refusing to complete the build-out of any portion of the trail system.
Following more than 26 years of hard work by its volunteer board and members of the community and expenditures of funds donated by the citizens of Albany, Dougherty County and beyond, SGRT in 2015 made the carefully considered decision to enter into a partnership with the City for development, operation and management of the Trail, whereby SGRT would entrust its only physical asset to the City in exchange for the City’s financing and construction of the Trail. SGRT assumed that the City would stand behind the promises that it made in the Agreement. To the dismay of SGRT’s directors and other members of the community, the City knowingly breached the Agreement. To the best of SGRT’s knowledge and belief, the decision not to comply with the Agreement was never placed on a meeting agenda of the City Commission nor discussed in a public meeting. SGRT can only assume that such decision was made in secret, perhaps in violation of the Georgia Open Records Act. There has been no formal, written notice to SGRT of the City’s position regarding the Agreement and its unilateral action to ignore its terms.
SGRT has no other recourse but to ask the court for relief in this matter. We continue to be hopeful that the trail will be constructed as agreed upon and that SGRT can resume our partnership with the City.
SGRT is a non-profit corporation consisting of a group of local physicians, business leaders and civic minded individuals whose sole purpose is to facilitate and develop a recreational trail within the “railbanked” rail corridor between Albany and Sasser. As part of the 2015 Agreement with the City of Albany, SGRT remains as the “trail manager” for the purposes of trail maintenance and to fulfill SGRT’s obligation to manage and protect the corridor under the provisions of the “National Trail Systems Act”. The “railbanked” rail corridor falls under the jurisdiction of the Surface Transportation Board (STB)
For more information on “railbanking” and the National Trail Systems Act, please see the link below:
Multi-use trails, in particular “rail-trails”, have proven to be extremely valuable community assets wherever they are constructed. Trails have repeatedly proven to be a valuable catalyst in both urban and rural economic revitalization. In addition, trails provide opportunities for exercise, recreation, transportation and environmental conservation. Wherever “rail-trails” are built property values increase by providing an amenity where there once was an abandoned railway. Trails also help to improve a city’s image and aid in retaining and attracting new residents.
For more information on the Benefits of Trails, please see the link below:
For questions not related to the legal complaint contact:
Billups “Bo” Johnson, President 229-344-5371
Spencer Lee, Project Manager 229-347-6007
For questions related to the legal complaint contact:
William C. Berryman, Jr. Attorney at Law 706-548 1151