The borough of Boyertown and a local revitalization group have purchased two acres around a soon-tobe-abandoned rail spur connecting the community with Pottstown in hopes of creating more parking for the borough down town.Building a Better Boyertown President Charles Haddad explained the motivation behind the $270,000 purchase Tuesday after the Berks County commissioners indicated their intentions to oppose a trail planned for the rail line once it has been abandoned.
"If we didn't buy this, the rail line would have put it on the open market," said Haddad, pointing out the land, classified as zone C2 commercial, is for retail or high density housing.
During the June 2 Boyertown Borough council meeting, Building a Better Boyertown President Charles Haddad initiated the borough's purchase of the land around the abandoned Colebrookdale rail spur.
The issue of abandoning the line, currently owned by East Penn Railroad Inc., was addressed at a Berks County Commissioners meeting in May, where Commissioner Mark Scott was critical of the plan.
At the Boyertown meeting, the council adopted a resolution to purchase the two acre tract of land at Third and Washington Streets.
The purchase of the tw-acre tract does not include any part of the rail right of way from Boyertown to Pottstown.
Settlement on the purchase agreement is expected to be on Nov. 30.
The land was appraised as $340,000 by the seller, East Penn Railroad Inc., but purchase price was negotiated to $270,000, according to Haddad.
Although the original contract and option to purchase was developed by Building a Better Boyertown, the interests of the group were assigned to the Borough of Boyertown for tax and funding reasons, Haddad said.
The borough and the revitalization group have filed for several grants to fund purchase and development of the property, but the purchase is not contingent upon receiving those grants, he added.
Use of the tract will be jointly planned and developed by the borough and the Building a Better Boyertown group with parking for the lower end of the community's main street being a primary consideration.
The two businesses currently using the rail line, Drug Plastics and Cabot Super Metals, were informed of the sale negotiations and both said the purchase would not be detrimental to their continued use of the rail line while it is still in operation.
Haddad said transfer tax in lieu of condemnation will save the borough $6,000 and will not effect residents.
Presently, the borough is sending out proposal requests to engineering firms to begin with phase one of the development.
The seller, East Penn Railroad, will be removing tracks, ties and balances, while restoring the ground to an even level.
Contact editor Matthew Reichl at 610-367-6041, ext. 240 or firstname.lastname@example.org.