Chaffee County to consider splitting Tennessee Pass railroad attorney fees with Avon, Eagle County
Avon mayor: Effort is not to fight, but rather to 'understand' the railroad
The Chaffee County Commissioners will be the next elected body to consider joining Avon and Eagle County in hiring an attorney to examine the Tennessee Pass railroad reactivation.
The agenda for the commissioners’ Tuesday meeting contains an action item in which the body will “consider jointly retaining the law firm Kaplan Kirsch & Rockwell LLP to represent the county related to the proposed activation of freight service on the Tennessee Pass rail line and matters related to potential uses of the Union Pacific rail line through Tennessee Pass.”
In January, Eagle County and the town of Avon agreed to hire Kaplan Kirsch & Rockwell as news of the possible reactivation of the rail line, which runs though both Chaffee County and Eagle County, was breaking.
The Colorado Midland & Pacific Railway Company entered into a commercial agreement with Union Pacific Railroad for the majority of the Tennessee Pass rail line on Dec. 31, and the railway company promptly announced its intention to reactivate the long dormant rail line.
Colorado Midland & Pacific community liaison Sara Cassidy said the company is eager to see the line reactivated.
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“We didn’t think that we would get an agreement to operate this, after years of conversation,” Cassidy said. “So now that’s it’s finally here, we’re really excited to get it going. It will take as long as it takes, but we’re also feeling really motivated to want to hear from everyone in the next few months, if we can.”
Cassidy will hear from Kaplan Kirsch & Rockwell, speaking on behalf of Avon and Eagle County, but Avon Mayor Sarah Smith Hymes is quick to point out that the town is not “spending a bunch of money to fight the railroad,” in her words.
“We are working with other community partners on the rail line to understand what is happening,” she said.
“We have hired these attorneys, Eagle County is chipping in, and we are not taking a position on it, we need to understand it,” Hymes said in an Avon Town Council Meeting on Jan. 26. “The railroad runs through our town, it has the potential to have a tremendous impact on the town, either positively or negatively, and so it is our responsibility to do whatever we can to fully understand the potential ramifications of the rehabilitation of that rail line, how it may benefit us, how it may harm us.”
Kaplan Kirsch & Rockwell partners will charge $450/hour, their associates $375, which is “in line with the fees other special council,” said Avon town attorney Paul Wisor.
The Chaffee County Commissioners Tuesday meeting is scheduled to start at 9 a.m. To participate in the meeting, connect via Zoom at https://zoom.us/j/109079543 or by calling 16699006833 and entering meeting ID # 109 079 543.