Saving the Nickel Plate Railroad and Fighting Three City Halls

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Saving the Nickel Plate Railroad and Fighting Three City Halls

It's not just about the railroad. A lawsuit announced Thursday is about forcing the councils to give the people more of a say.

FISHERS, Ind.--If your favorite park was going to be turned into something else, you'd probably want a say in it. The group "Save the Nickel Plate", says Fishers, Noblesville and Hamilton County did not give them enough say when the cities and county decided last year to convert the Nickel Plate Railroad to a trail.

The group announced a lawsuit Thursday, asking a judge to acknowledge the councils violated the state's open doors laws when they made their decision.

"If you look at any process of government, they're gonna have steps that they follow," said group spokesman Logan Day, on the steps of the state house, where the lawsuit was announced. "Let's say it's a five-step process. They essentially started at step five, which is this is a go. That's how they announced it. We're doing the trail. And, the public's saying why don't we have a voice?"

Day said he believes the public should have had more input, especially on a railroad, which he says are becoming more public than private, whereas they mostly began as private enterprises. 

"If it has to be that a trail is built, let's build it with it (along with the railroad). But, if we have to choose between one or the other, we want the railroad."

Day says his group represents over 11,000 people who have signed a petition, asking that the railroad be preserved.

"Earlier this month, State Representative, Cindy Kirchhofer, and State Senator, Michael Crider sent letters urging Indiana Council Members to investigate the conversion of the Nickel Plate Railroad to a walking/biking trail," said a news release from Save the Nickel Plate.

"Subsequently, state lawmakers also wrote letters to the Surface Transportation Board (STB), which is currently considering whether to allow trail use in place of the railroad. Sen. Crider, who serves as Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Transportation Committee, wrote a letter to the STB urging them to put 'emphasis on restoring rail use' as they consider their decision. Indianapolis City-County Councilman Jared Evans also wrote to the STB, requesting that they suspend the proceeding."

Day said the group is essentially fighting three city halls, in its effort to save the railroad and demand a better level of participation in the process.

PHOTO: IStock/Gyn9038

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