Vote on closing rail crossing on hold

FAIRFIELD TWP. – A vote on closing the Esterly Drive railroad crossing won’t happen in “the immediate future,” Trustee Chairman Bob Hum said.

In December, trustees wanted to vote on the issue at the Jan. 23 meeting but delayed action and Hum said Thursday the “ball” was in the hands of D. Casey Talbott, an attorney representing Norfolk Southern which owns the crossing.

Closing it will accommodate a closed-loop rail inside the Buckeye Realty Transfer where the company operates a full-service transloading station that serves the oil and gas industry.

It currently distributes fracking sand by the tank-load and a brine water cleaning system is planned.

The design calls for it to accommodate Unitrains, (100-car units) and a 7,200-foot section of the loop is needed to cross Esterly Drive to the north outside the main plant.

It will then make a sweeping curve to the south and re-enter the facility adjacent to Norfolk Southern’s main line and the crossing at Esterly Drive.

If closed, the crossing, which sees about 127 trains a day including Amtrak, will leave dead-ends to the north and south on Esterly Drive.

Norfolk Southern said it will not service the Buckey Realty facility unless the crossing is closed.

Hum said Talbott is addressing issues relative to nearby businesses, two small plots of land and improving the intersection off state Route 344 where trucks have to make a hard left turn.

One guest, crossing opponent Mary Ann Ossoff, attended the meeting but did not speak.

In other business, the new copier from Valley Office supply that hasn’t operated since it was first plugged in on Dec. 18, 2013 drew pointed comments from trustees.

Road Supervisor Mel Miller, who along with Zoning Officer Kymberly Seabolt, use it the most, explained the problems while noting that service personnel have made two service calls to the township.

“Two call outs,” Miller said, adding they were billed for that. Miller said he thought the 90-day warranty would cover that. The copier cost $5,899.

He said there were scanning problems “which were attributed to our firewall … and another problem.”

Miller explained that Valley Office said the problems would have been covered under a maintenance agreement which covers everything except paper and staples.

The maintenance agreement is $39 a month under a three-year contract.

He further explained the problems will be covered under the maintenance agreement if trustees sign it now.

“It’s brand new,” Hum said.

Trustee Barry Miner asked, “When was it plugged in?”

Miller said, “December 18, 2013.”

Miner said, “For a machine that was plugged in on 12-18 and hasn’t operated correctly … it’s brand new, like Bob said. C’mon it hasn’t operated at full capacity since we got it.”

Miner also expressed displeasure at the company pressuring them with a maintenance agreement.

Hum said, “We shouldn’t have to pay for any of this and we’re not going to.”

Fiscal Officer Pat Hoffmaster pointed out the time Miller has taken to speak with Valley Office on the phone about the problems. Miller said he got them to accept reverse-charges for the calls.

Hoffmaster said it was time Miller could have spent doing other things.

Miner asked for the contact information and said he would call Valley Office.

In other business, Miller said his department has enough rock salt for “several more snows.”

He added, “We’re in good shape.”

Trustees and Seabolt all commended the department and Miner, a former Ohio Department of Transportation official, said the roads “are looking phenomenal … pass that on to the guys.”