Pickens asks for more time for railroad project

By Nicole Daughhette

Courier Staff

PICKENS — The city of Pickens has filed an 180-day extension allowing for more time during which the city and the Pickens Railway Company can continue to develop an agreement and finalize the sale of the Doodle Line that will be developed into the “Rails-to-Trails” project — an 8.5-mile multi-modal greenway connecting the cities of Easley and Pickens.

Various Pickens County residents have voiced their unhappiness about the project, asserting that there will be an infringement on property rights or that a pedestrian and cycling trail will foster criminal activity in the area; however, other members of the community support having a safe, family-friendly trail that will encourage outdoors activities like walking, running and bicycling.

Pickens city administrator Katherine Brackett and mayor David Owens have both said on different occasions that acquiring property, like the Doodle Line, actually helps to deter — as opposed to creating opportunities for — criminal behavior.

“When areas like the Doodle Line are left abandoned, this is when you see problems with criminal behavior. No one uses the area, and it is not monitored,” said Brackett. “Part of the line stretches through the main corridor of Pickens. If the area is simply left to grow up and out, it will be an eyesore for the community.”

Brackett says the city is not in a hurry, because officials want the project done correctly.

“We will be in no big rush, as there is a lot of planning that needs to be done,” she said. “We will likely jointly hire a firm to conduct a feasibility study and lead planning. We are currently looking at grant opportunities to fund the study.”

The 180-day extension should put the finalized sale of the Doodle Line sometime in June at the latest.

“After that, from the city of Pickens’ standpoint, we would like to work immediately on freshening up the looks of the trailhead on the city of Pickens side,” said Brackett. “Of course anything we do, Easley must be a part of or at least concur with, as we are equal partners.

“We need to decide what structures stay and what goes and just do some basic housekeeping on the property.”

An extension is just that: more time for Pickens and Easley to more closely study the project and work on the planning necessary to develop the Doodle Line into an aesthetically inviting recreational trail that Pickens County residents will be able to enjoy for generations to come.