The TC Palm – Orchid officials OK resolution opposing All Aboard Florida

Posted on January 25, 2016

By Janet Begley


ORCHID — On the last day to submit comments on the Federal Railroad Administration’s report on All Aboard Florida, the Orchid Town Council voted unanimously on a resolution against the high-speed rail project.


The resolution combines portions of similar resolutions already passed in Indian River Shores, Indian River County, Sebastian and Vero Beach. It calls for All Aboard Florida to pay for the costs of the project, including quiet zone and corridor improvements, and says any government assistance for the project should be limited to secured loans at no less than market interest rates.


After reviewing the draft environmental impact statement released by the Federal Railroad Administration, Town Council members agreed with other municipalities that many environmental impacts of the rail project on Indian River County were not addressed. They urged that a supplemental draft environmental impact statement be prepared to address these concerns.


In a letter to John Winkle from the Federal Railroad Administration, Orchid Mayor Harold Ofstie said the council and residents of Orchid are concerned about All Aboard Florida’s impacts.


“It is our strongly held belief that the impact of dozens of high speed rail trains cutting through the center of Indian River County on a daily basis would be dramatically negative, and would irreparably harm the quality of life for residents of the county,” Ofstie wrote. “It is the unanimous opinion of the Orchid Town Council that this project should not be approved and definitely no public money should be expended in its development.”


Ofstie called the current All Aboard Florida project an “environmental disaster” and said it should be disapproved and other options explored.


“If the Federal Rail Administration feels that a commuter route is of such importance that it is to be approved, then it should be moved inland, perhaps to where the current Amtrak lines run, rather than dissecting the heavily populated residential communities along the coast,” Ofstie wrote.


After Wednesday’s meeting, Ofstie said Town Council members felt obligated to comment on the All Aboard Florida proposal because of its importance to residents.


“There was a tremendous amount of input from residents, asking if we were going to weigh-in on the issue,” Ofstie said. “They felt the train project would hurt the environment in Vero Beach, and since the council does not believe it will be good for Indian River County, we wanted to voice our opinion.”


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