The commissioners of the Accomack Northampton Transportation District Commission (ANTDC) owe the public an apology for the wasteful and misleading ad run in this paper last week under the name of Canonie Atlantic Co.
This ad was run by ANTDC, not just Canonie. The commissioners huddled in the closed-door Canonie meeting, on Nov. 3, when the ad was conceived. They were all there together for the vote to disburse public funds.
Ask the commissioners about the vote and they’ll say the Canonie board voted, not the commission. They hide that they act as members of both boards, drawn from the same pool, supervisors of Accomack and Northampton counties. They meet together, blurring their roles by convening first as the commission, then as Canonie, on the same day, in the same room. They operate as one entity with two names.
On Nov. 3, this small group met as the commission for 10 minutes. Then the same small group adjourned and immediately reconvened as the Canonie board.
Ask the commissioners who paid for that ad. They’ll say private funds, Canonie ran the ad. Yet, ANTDC holds all voting shares and rights on Canonie’s board and purchased those rights at taxpayers’ expense. The railroad and related assets belong to the counties and the public.
They use your money to fund unnecessary $600 newspaper ads. They could have issued a press release for free. But, then reporters would check facts, rather than accept the blatant misinformation in the commissioners’ ad.
Misinformation started with the headline: “The Railroad is Being Saved.”
False. The right-of-way is being saved for a bike path and utility lines. Once the commissioners finish tearing up the railroad tracks, the railroad will not be seen in our lifetimes, likely not in generations. Any hope for using the railroad to attract good-paying manufacturing jobs will be gone.
Moreover, ANTDC saving the rightof-way isn’t in question. Both ANTDC and NYP&N RR Ltd., want a bicycle path and sewer and utility burial. NYP&N knows that we can keep an operating railroad too. ANTDC appears not to want to bother. They overrule the desires of the citizenry with their deceit.
The commissioners want the public to believe that the line south of Bloxom is decrepit and would cost too much to repair, maybe $5 to $6 million. Yet, they are selling the track under contract for reuse.
Dead track doesn’t sell for reuse. And, they’re not telling us the destination of these funds.
It’s also not for the commissioners to decide whether the railroad is too expensive to repair. That should be the decision of the operator, and one is in plain sight with equipment and personnel to begin repairs.
Unfortunately, the commissioners have made only the most feeble attempts to attract Rail Enterprise Group or other operators. They only contacted two operators previously.
ANTDC doesn’t behave honorably to its public, or those attempting operate or ship on the railroad. Nor does its pet company, Canonie Atlantic. You decide who you trust. ANTDC/Canonie with its secretive, misleading conduct? Or, the nonprofit organization volunteers who uncovered it?
Secretary, NYP&N RR Ltd.