COLUMBIANA COUNTY - The Columbiana County Port Authority is keeping $50,000 of a $150,000 down payment it received from a company that was once interested in purchasing the Port Authority's railroad.
Tervita Corp. entered into a tentative agreement earlier in the year to purchase the former Youngstown & Southern Railway from the Port Authority, and the deal required a $150,000 security deposit.
The company later changed its mind, raising last minute concerns about alleged environmental problems with two pieces of property along the 36-mile railroad. The agreement allowed Tervita to walk away from the sale if it encountered environmental issues, and this also required the security deposit be returned.
The Port Authority responded by hiring an environmental consulting firm to determine if contamination existed at the two locations. Port Authority CEO Tracy Drake said their study determined some environmental concerns existed, but not anything near the extent claimed by Tervita and, certainly, not enough to serve as grounds for voiding the purchase agreement.
Speaking after this week's Port Authority board meeting, Drake said he believes Tervita exaggerated the extent of the problem for the purpose of getting out of the purchase agreement, which is why he only returned $100,000 from the security deposit.
He believes if any clean up is required it will be minimal at best and nothing near what was claimed by Tervita, which still plans to purchase the demolition debris landfill located along the rail line in Negley.
In other action at this week's meeting, the board exercised its option to purchase two small parcels of land in Wellsville as part of the Marathon Petroleum expansion project. The property was purchased from Robert E. Culp for $40,000. Marathon has a storage tank/transfer facility next door to the Port Authority's riverfront industrial park in Wellsville. Earlier this year, Marathon purchased 3.6 acres from the Port Authority for the purpose of developing the property into a staging area for trucks bringing in oil and gas collected from wells, with a pipeline transporting the material to the storage tanks.
The project requires the Port Authority to acquire some additional parcels from six property owners, one of whom was Culp, and the village of Wellsville.