Avon Growth News, 9-14-05 to 11-6-05

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9-14-05 Court to hear about possible exhaust hazards from proposed bus garage

9-14-05 Duct Tape Festival Committee looking to recruit new members

10-2-05 Lorain County Sacred Landmarks Initiative

10-4-05 Complaints at a Council Work Session

10-15-05 Hire the Busses!

11-4-05 2005 Lorain County Beautiful Awards

11-6-05 'Celebrations of Faith' Gallery Talk and Tour on 11-13-05

11-6-05 A Commuter Rail Line from Lorain to Solon

LETTER TO RESIDENTS from The Committee for Smart Growth In Avon, 9-24-05

Dear Resident,

We are writing to express our concern over the proposed addition of a school bus garage and storage lot in the front of Heritage North Elementary School on Detroit Rd. We believe that there are reasonable alternatives to placing 42 buses on Detroit Rd. in the FRONT of a brand new and well landscaped school. Avon's population is expected to quadruple before the city reaches capacity and with this population increase the city is certain to see an increase in buses. How many school districts store their buses in FRONT of a school in a residential district?

Placing the bus garage in the front of this new school is not only a poor choice but also could effect the integrity of the zoning in the area. A bus garage and a storage facility are not permitted uses in a residentially zoned area. Furthermore there are reasonable noise, traffic and health concerns that should be considered.

The Healthy School Handbook, published by the National Educational Association, states that idling bus exhaust fills and contaminates the school grounds, corridors and classrooms with toxic fumes. In addition The Environmental Protection Agency has labeled diesel fuel exhaust as a likely carcinogen and blamed it for causing lung cancer and asthma attacks in children, a position that was affirmed by the 12-member advisory board.

After the city council voted 6-1 against allowing the bus garage in a residentially zoned area in front of Heritage North, the school district proceeded with the project, ignoring and intentionally violating Avon's zoning laws. The school board is currently fighting the city in court claiming they can supercede the city law because they are a governmental entity. We urge you to contact the school board and ask them to follow the lead of Westlake and many other school districts by placing their bus garage in an industrial area. Below is the school board's and city council's contact information for your convenience.

Paid for by The Committee for Smart Growth In Avon, Kristy Rice Treasurer, 3105 Stoney Ridge Rd. Avon, OH

Avon City Council:

Larry Hoekstra 440-759-3518, Joanne Easterday 934-6951, Larry Kroeger 967-5501

Avon School Board Members:

Angie Marsiglia 934-6767, AJKJ@aol.com

Deborah Polovich 937-5298, DPolovich@aol.com

Ruth Keller 937-5221, rakeller@centurytel.net

Susan Harrison 937-5850, avonkennels@msn.com

Dale Smitek 934-6919, DSmitek@aol.com

SOME REFERENCES:

http://www.harvard-magazine.com/on-line/050543.html

http://www.moea.state.mn.us/ee/noidle.cfm

http://www.nrdc.org/air/transportation/qbus.asp

http://www.stnonline.com/stn/cleanschoolbus/index.htm

http://www.stnonline.com/stn/cleanschoolbus/csb_news.htm#carb5

http://www.stnonline.com/stn/cleanschoolbus/csb_ehhreport.htm

http://www.pca.state.mn.us/air/dieselretrofits.html

http://cleanairnow.org/cleanairnow.asp?id2=10912&id3=cleanairnow

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NEWS ARTICLE from The Morning Journal, 9-14-05, by KRISTA SCHULTZ, Morning Journal Writer

[Judge Christopher Rothgery has postponed the trial until 10-19-05 in order to allow the Avon School Board to hire a diesel emissions expert.]

``Court to hear about possible exhaust hazards from proposed bus garage

ELYRIA -- Expert testimony about potential health risks involving the proposed location of an Avon school bus garage will be considered by a judge at a hearing later this month [9-29-05] to determine whether to allow construction to continue at the Heritage School Complex.

A motion filed by Avon school board attorney Ken Stumphauzer to throw out testimony and evidence on the possibility of diesel emissions harming students or local residents was denied yesterday.

school busses
School busses parked at SBS Transit on Colorado Ave. (SR 611) give some idea of what could happen to the front yard of Heritage North School on Detroit Road.

The school board had proposed building a new bus garage at the Heritage complex, 35575 Detroit Road, and the plan was approved by the Avon Planning Commission in June. But City Council denied the project later that month and suggested building the facility elsewhere.

When the school board continued to go forward with the project, City Council filed a request asking the court to order it to stop construction.

Stumphauzer alleged in his motion that the issue of diesel emissions was not a topic originally discussed in council's denial of the plan in June, and that it was simply an afterthought argument to support their request to stop garage construction.

City Council President Larry Hoekstra testified yesterday that two council members had suggested the issue of diesel emissions before the bus garage site was denied ...

Avon Assistant Law Director Dan Stringer said although council did not have a concrete expert opinion on emission safety at the time of the vote, it doesn't mean the health of Avon residents wasn't considered. He also argued that although the city's individual buses comply with emissions guidelines, council's concern is multiple buses at one site.

''I think the health of the children is worth the cost of an inspection,'' Stringer said.

And though Stumphauzer argued that the recommendations made by Stringer's Dearborn, Mich., emissions expert were all seen by the school board, Stringer countered that the conclusion of the report was to house the bus garage somewhere else. The report has yet to be released publicly, said Thomas Dougan, staff attorney for Lorain County Common Pleas Judge Christopher Rothgery, who heard the motion.

Rothgery said his decision to deny Stumphauzer's motion yesterday hinged on his not wanting to assume there was no danger to children or local residents from the garage site.

''I'm not firmly convinced that an expert is going to convince me that these emissions are a danger to children. But I'm not going to say we're not going to do whatever we can to consider that possibility,'' Rothgery said ...''

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NEWS ARTICLE from The Chronicle-Telegram, 9-14-05, by Brad Dicken

``Exhaust added to bus garage battle

ELYRIA -- The city of Avon can continue to press its concerns about the effects of bus exhaust on students in its ongoing battle with Avon school board over where the district can build a bus garage, a judge ruled Tuesday.

The school district has been fighting with the city over whether it will be allowed to build a 42-bus garage and maintenance facility on the grounds of Heritage Elementary on Detroit Road.

City Council rejected a zoning change that would have allowed the district to build the garage, despite a Planning Commission recommendation that the project be approved. After Council's vote, the school board decided to seek bids and build the garage without city approval.

At-large Councilwoman JoAnne Easterday said she was pleased the city's concerns will be presented if the case goes to trial before county Common Pleas Judge Christopher Rothgery, who issued the ruling Tuesday.

"This is an opportunity for the school board to address city needs for 50 years in the future," she said ...

Easterday said experts from around the country have recognized there is a serious risk from bus exhaust on students and the prospect of 42 buses idling their motors could cause harm to the students at the school ...''

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NEWS ARTICLE from The Press, 9-14-05, By Beth Mlady

``Council offers counterproposal to school board on bus garage issue

AVON -- Though Avon City Council was disappointed with the contents of a recent resolution proposed to them by the city's board of education, it appears progress is finally being made in solving the problem of where a bus garage should be built. A counterproposal was issued to the board on Sept. 7 [2005] from council's legal representative (and city magistrate), Dan Stringer.

The counterproposal indicated that "The Board of Education may park and store its school buses at the Heritage Elementary School site (the board's preferred location) provided...the service garage be located (where)...the City Zoning Code allows for such use; and ... that the school board comply with the recommendations of the City's (diesel fumes) consultant for the reduction of harmful diesel emissions."

In addition, the document reiterated the fact that the "service garage" should be located on property properly zoned for that use. The Heritage site is not zoned to allow for those services, and council denied a special use permit months ago to permit a facility of that type to be constructed there ...

Recent conversations between The PRESS and Stringer brought several points to light. First, the legal case is based solely on city zoning restrictions ... "We have a zoning law to protect," Ward 4 Councilman Gerald Gentz said. "If we lose our ability to protect the laws of the city of Avon, what good would a council be?"

Stringer mentioned, like Gentz, "the authority of council" as another key issue. He cited a case brought before the courts in 1980 as legal precedent for council's assertions. After reviewing that court's ruling, The PRESS found council's arguments seem to have validity.

The issues currently being discussed in Avon are eerily similar to the case of Puck vs. the Board of Education of the Cleveland City School District. In that instance, the school board applied for a permit to use a school site for bus storage. Like Avon's case, the city denied the zoning variance request. The school board then took the case to the Common Pleas Court which initially ruled in its favor. That ruling, however, was subsequently overturned on appeal.

The state [appeals court] acknowledged at that time that "the sole issue is whether school boards are exempt from (city) ordinances." Just because the school board is considered "a government agency" does not automatically mean it is immune from a city's zoning laws, according to the ruling.

Another point of argument has been if having a bus garage and dozens of buses on the Heritage site is "ancillary to the operation of the school system." The ruling found that bus storage does, in fact, supplement a school's ability to operate; however, the key to the state's decision was whether or not "alternative sites" had been properly investigated. Avon City Council contends other bus garage locations have never been seriously considered by the school board.

Stringer said that the school district can store its buses at the Heritage site "provided that the board complies with the recommendations of our (emissions) expert that will eliminate or greatly reduce any harmful effects of the (diesel) emissions." A hearing was scheduled for Sept. 13 (after PRESS deadline) on whether or not the issue of bus diesel fuel emissions would be allowed as evidence in the case.

"We are making an effort at a fair compromise," Stringer said of council's counterproposal. A call to the school board's attorney, Ken Stumphauzer, was not returned.

The case is scheduled to be presented to the judge (it is not a jury trial) on Sept. 29 [2005].''

More on the Bus Garage

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NEWS ARTICLE from The Press, 9-14-05, By Julie A. Short

``Duct Tape Festival Committee looking to recruit new members

AVON -- No one could have predicted the success of the Avon Heritage Duct Tape Fest ival. Having completed its second run, the festival has drawn thousands of visitors from throughout Northeast Ohio, as well the United States. As one can imagine, an event of this magnitude takes a lot of people to organize.

Residents may be surprised to learn the Avon Heritage Duct Tape Festival Committee is comprised of approximately seven members, as well a handful of volunteers. Contrary to rumors, the event is not sponsored by the city (although the city does provide some services including security and venue), therefore much of the planning is done by the committee members.

"This is a festival of the people," Committee member Heather Sefcik said. "The festival is organized by a small group of residents and business people who want to create a great event. We are a non-profit organization so the success of this festival is really based on the volunteerism and dedication of others."

Committee members are looking for anyone wishing to help organize next year's festival, which will be held June 16-18, 2006. Meetings are held monthly and subcommittees meet as often as needed.

"We also have some positions available that don't even require working the weekend of the festival," Sefcik said. "While, of course, we'd like everybody to volunteer time over the festival weekend, there are jobs with the sponsorship committee, or the toll-free phone number committee, where it is not necessary to be in attendance that weekend."

The list of areas needing volunteers includes (but not limited to): parade committee, entertainment committee, finance committee, booth and vending committee, parking, toll-free number, sponsorships, information and logistics (set-up/tear down).

The Avon Heritage Duct Tape Festival features Duck brand duct tape sculptures and crafts, rides, games, food, vendors, fireworks, a car and truck show, live entertainment and more.

The committee is hosting a recruiting event for anyone wishing to be a part of the festival on Sept. 18 [2005] from 11 a.m.- 4 p.m. at Heinen's (Avon Commons).''

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NEWS ARTICLE from The Morning Journal, 10-2-05, By LAURA KENNELLY, Morning Journal Columnist

[Lorain County Sacred Landmarks Initiative]

``Lorain County's rich ethnic and spiritual heritage is easy to spot just by driving down local streets. It's even more poignant to spot while visiting a new exhibit at the main gallery at the Stocker Center in Lorain County Community College.

''Celebration of Faith: Lorain County's Religious Heritage, 1809-2005'' continues through Nov. 18 with priceless religious artifacts -- not from all corners of the globe, but from the beautiful churches right in Lorain County.

''We drive by these landmark buildings all the time, but we don't always know what they are,'' said Cheryl Piper, director of Lorain County Sacred Landmarks Initiative ...

As a way of both celebrating and teaching about Lorain's religious past, the Sacred Landmarks Initiative is not only mounting an exhibit of religious objects but also bringing in Apollo's Fire: The Cleveland Baroque Orchestra for a concert at 4 p.m. Oct. 16, at the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in downtown Lorain. ''It's a two-for-one: You get to hear Apollo's Fire and you get to be awestruck about the church,'' said Piper.

Tickets may be ordered through the Stocker Center Box Office at (440) 366-4040. Premium seats are $28, regular seats $20 and the balcony is $10. Piper said ''the sight lines are bad in the balcony, but the sound is very good.''

Another musical event takes place at 4:30 p.m. Nov. 6 at First Church in Oberlin (106 N. Main St.) with the group Hymn Sing. Mary Louise VanDyke of Kendall at Oberlin is in charge of this event --where members of the public simply show up and join in for an old-fashioned group sing, which lets the church overflow with song.''

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NEWS ARTICLE from The Morning Journal, 10-4-05, by SCOT ALLYN, Morning Journal Writer

[Complaints at a Council Work Session]

``AVON -- Several Bentley Park residents told city council they fear authorities are ignoring motorists exceeding speed limits on city streets and are requesting a traffic light at SR 83 and Falcon Crest Avenue to help slow drivers down.

Tim Bresnahan, a homeowner on Falcon Crest Avenue, told council at a work session last night [10-3-05] too many drivers are disregarding speed limits ...

Ward 3 Councilman Timothy Nickum agreed that local traffic laws are not being enforced. He said some stop signs are obscured by trees and suggested the city place a ''Stop Ahead'' sign in front of the stop sign at the intersection of Livingston Drive and Waterford Way to warn motorists.

Meanwhile, residents also used the work session to voice opposition to commercial development on SR 83 near Bentley Park.

''I was attracted to Avon for its school system, and its level of development'' said Michael Anderson, also of Bentley Park. ''I don't want to see (SR 83) become commercially zoned.'' Anderson was referring to a rezoning request council is currently studying from Greg Romes of Lake Pointe Construction. Romes has requested 21 acres east of SR 83 and south of Detroit Road be rezoned.

Drew Isaac, another Bentley Park resident, voiced frustration with Avon's planning process. ''I don't understand where the control is,'' Isaac said. ''(SR 83) should not go commercial ...''

Avon City Council will hold its regular meeting on Oct. 11 [2005] at 7:30 p.m.''

Cintact sallyn@morningjournal.com

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LETTER TO THE EDITOR of The Morning Journal, 10-15-05, by Taylor J. Smith

[Hire the Busses!]

Is the Avon Board of Education wasting our money? Why has the BOE not considered the alternative of contracting school bus service with SBS Transit, 3747 Colorado Ave. (SR 611) in Sheffield Village? Other cities use SBS. Avon might save a lot of money.

This would solve the contentious bus garage problem. The busses would be stored in Sheffield with all the other busses. The BOE would not have to build a fancy garage at Heritage North (probably costing $400,000 more than an adequate pole barn structure); and the BOE would avoid the enormous financial risk of Heritage North School being shut down in a few years because of accumulated tiny particle diesel pollution.

Storing busses at Heritage North will be a glaring irritation to many Avon voters who will be called upon to pass future Avon school levies. Does the BOE want to risk this? Maybe we need some new people on the school board who want to protect the health of our children and also protect the interests of Avon taxpayers.

Taylor J. Smith, Avon

From the SBS Transit, Inc. web site:

``SBS Transit, Inc. is an Ohio Corporation with offices in Sheffield, Ohio. We provide student transportation for public school districts and special needs school bus transportation for Boards of MRDD.

SBS Transit, Inc. was founded in 1966 by Robert and Janice Van Wagnen to provide safe transportation for clients of the Lorain County Board of Mental Retardation and developmental Disabilities. A service we continue to provide today.

In Ohio, almost 40% of school districts contract out a portion or all of their non-instructional services.

School districts outsource transportation to realize significant cost savings.

Enhanced Service -- SBS Transit provides vehicles, staff, CDL training, drug/alcohol testing, physicals (T8), in house student discipline program, fleet maintenance, dispatch/radio staff, routing and extra curricular and athletic trips. Essentially, SBS Transit provides a complete 'turn key' professional transportation department.

Special Needs Transportation -- A very expensive facet of school transportation. SBS Transit has extensive experience providing special needs transportation since 1966.

Quality Enhancement -- Our training of drivers, monitors, mechanics and staff is unparalleled in the State.

District lacks Personnel and Equipment -- Forget your daily staffing problems. We are proud of our BlueBird, state-of-the-art fleet with an annual Ohio State Highway Patrol inspection pass rate of 100%.

Local Control -- We are so confident in our service package that we include a generous buy-back clause in the contract.

SBS Transit employees are union members of OAPSE Local #790.

We would be happy to provide a simple cost presentation for your analysis.

Learn more about School Transportation Contract Services.

SBS Transit Inc.

3747 Colorado Avenue

Sheffield Village Ohio 44054

440-949-8121

800-548-5304

fax 440-949-2979''

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NEWS ARTICLE from The Chronicle Telegram, 11-4-05, by Cindy Leise

[2005 Lorain County Beautiful Awards]

``LORAIN -- Participants in the 14th annual Lorain County Beautiful awards all have great projects, but Pat Cano of the Visitor's Bureau has a soft spot in her heart for the community service awards ... For example, the LaGrange Community Park concession stand cost less than $80,000 to build with volunteers ...

The winners of the awards program were recognized in a gala dinner at DeLuca's Place in the Park on Thursday night. There were 54 participants this year and 12 winners in six categories. The awards are sponsored by Lorain County Heritage, a nonprofit subsidiary of the visitor's bureau.

The winners were chosen by volunteer judges Tom Roberts, landscaping professional of Cedar Point Amusement Park in Sandusky; Scott Heacock, architect with Poggemeyer Design Group in Bowling Green; and Frank Lopez, environmentalist with the Old Woman Creek Estuarine Reserve in Huron. The corporate sponsor for this year's event was Star Builders of Amherst.

Award winners:

Green Space Awards: Warren Brown Family Council Ring, The Heart of Ohio Council, Boy Scouts of America, Grey Hawk Golf Club

Rehabilitation Awards: Arbor Lights Bed and Breakfast, The Duane Building by Jon Veard

Community Service Awards: Burrell Homestead -- the Lorain County Metroparks, Cascade Park Nature Center, Elyria Rotary and Elyria Parks and Recreation Department, Avon Little League Park

Landscaping Awards: Tom's Country Place, DeLuca's Place in the Park

Community Revitalization Award: The city of Amherst for its street intersection improvement

New Building Awards: Camp Timberlane, the Erie Shores, Girl Scouts, Green Circle Growers Office Building''

Contact Cindy Leise at cleise@chroniclet.com.

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'Celebrations of Faith' Gallery Talk and Tour on 11-13-05

At the 11-2-05 meeting of the Avon Historical Society, it was decided to have a field trip to the Stocker Arts Center at Lorain County Community College, 1005 N. Abbe Rd. on Sunday, 11-13-05, assembling at the Stocker Center at 1 pm.

The Lorain County Sacred Landmarks Initiative at Lorain County Community College is hosting a special gallery presentation on Sunday, November 13, 2005 in conjunction with its "Celebrations of Faith: Lorain County's Religious Heritage 1809-2005" religious art and artifacts exhibit.

The gallery presentation will feature Stephen Fliegel, Curator of Medieval Art, Cleveland Museum of Art speaking on the topic of" Images of Christian Expression: Liturigcal Objects and Devotional Art of the Middle Ages".

The presentation will begin at 1:30 in the Stocker Arts Center at Lorain County Community College, 1005 N. Abbe Rd. Elyria, OH. The presentation will last approximately 45 minutes.

The Beth K. Stocker Art Gallery at the Stocker Arts Center will also be open from 1:00 - 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, November 13th to accommodate visitors who would like to view the exhibit. Guests will have the opportunity to view art, vestments, artifacts, historical documents, and photos of the many congregations and denominations within Lorain County. This representation provides a glimpse of the rich and cultural heritage with our county.

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NEWS ARTICLE from The Chronicle Telegram, 11-6-05, by Brad Dicken

[A Commuter Rail Line from Lorain to Solon]

LORAIN -- Supporters of commuter trains connecting Lorain to Cleveland and points beyond gathered Saturday [11-5-05] to raise money to help fund their cause. The small gathering at the city's Black River Landing was also aimed at raising awareness of the work being done by All Aboard Ohio!, a group pushing for commuter rail service in the state.

Dominic Liberatore, the group's executive director, said a commuter railroad would go a long way toward revitalizing downtown Lorain. The first step, he said, would be to build a commuter railroad connecting Lorain, Cleveland and Solon. Once built, it would open the outlying areas to people who work in Cleveland but want to live further out and spur economic development in Lorain, he said.

"Small businesses would form and develop in proximity to serve the needs of the riders," Liberatore said. "It would improve the quality of life around the station." A survey the group conducted four years ago shows that if the railroad is built, Ohio residents will use it, Liberatore said

County Commissioner Betty Blair said she's a big supporter of the commuter rail in large part because of what it will do to revitalize Lorain, but also because it can help the average person save money. "With high gasoline prices and the high cost of highways, we should go back and look at what was the popular form of transportation before the automobile was invented," she said.

Liberatore and the others aren't expecting to get approval for the plan overnight. "There's a lot of work that needs to be done," he said. In a perfect world, Liberatore would like to see the state and federal government endorse a high-speed rail system operating all over the state. It would cost $3.3 billion over 30 years, but once completed would offer Ohioans the ability to zip from city to city at speeds of 125 mph ...

U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Toledo, sees an opportunity for Ohio to take the lead and establish commuter railroads in the state and even work with Pennsylvania, which is also investigating the possibilities that railroads offer. "Rather than waiting for the rest of the country to get on board, let's get Ohio and Pennsylvania on board," she said.

Railroads for both passengers and freight should be supported, Kaptur argued, because in a state like Ohio, rail lines just make sense. "We're flat, we can move things fast," she said. "It's a great lure for economic development."''

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NEWS ARTICLE from The Morning Journal, 11-6-05, by JENNIFER BRACKEN, Morning Journal Writer

``Train group pushes Lorain

LORAIN -- All Aboard Ohio, a nonprofit organization, is still chugging away at plans to bring passenger rail trains through Lorain.

All Aboard Ohio is committed to promoting intercity passenger and freight rail service throughout the state of Ohio. Their goal is to preserve, expand and improve existing passenger rail services, according to the group's Web site, www.allaboardohio.org.

Last night [11-5-05] the organization held a dinner benefit at Black River Landing Transportation Center as part of their advocacy campaign.

''We want to develop support for passenger trains to go from Lorain to Cleveland to Hudson,'' said Dominic Liberatore, executive director of All Aboard Ohio. ''We decided to have it at a train station with no train service, because we'd like to see some trains here,'' Liberatore said ...

A study completed in the early 1990s determined the route from Lorain to Cleveland to Hudson was the most feasible, he said. Other cities that prove to be feasible are Cincinnati, Columbus, Toledo and Dayton, according to the Web site.

''The development of a rail service will increase the quality of life for Ohio,'' Liberatore said.

Now, the Ohio Rail Development Commission has hired a group to complete an economic impact study.

''It will show how many jobs are created, where the jobs will be located and how much the jobs will pay if we build a rail service in Ohio,'' he said.

After the economic study, an environmental impact study will need to be completed and federal funds secured.

Liberatore said on Friday [11-11-05] the state Senate will pass a bill that will create 80 percent federal dollars and 20 percent state and local dollars to pay for the capital budget for the Ohio Hub Plan, which includes high-speed passenger rail service.

''Development of rail service will create jobs, small business development, more demand for housing and an increase in property value,'' he said. ''And for people tired of paying high gas prices, it will offer another option.''

A high-speed passenger rail service will offer local residents an alternative to car and airplane travel, resulting in a more balanced transportation system, Liberatore said.''

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