On this damp Cecil County evening, a crowd of about 50 people turned out at the monthly meeting of the Colora Civic Association to hear an advocacy group, Oxford Area Transit, discuss the idea of bringing rail service back to the old Octoraro Branch through Sylmar, Rising Sun, Colora, Liberty Grove, and Rowlandsville. The Oxford based group has been working for a couple of years to get full service restored to the line in Southern Chester County and this evening they traveled to Colora to pitch the idea of bringing the service on down the line to connect to the main corridor at Perryville. With growth in the area, the congestion on the northeast corridor, and the possible influx of new residents as a result of BRAC, they indicated that the old railroad could provide a valuable tool for the region to manage land development and growth in the corridor adjacent to the scenic line.
As the hours ticked by, the crowd had lots of questions for the representatives from Oxford Area Transit and overall there was not a lot of voiced support for restoring service. Some worried that by reopening the line, the county would use it as justification to allow more dense growth to occur in an area that should be protected from concentrated development. Others thought that the potential for growth would never justify opening the line, which caused an interesting discussion about BRAC. Several citizens made the point that BRAC wasn’t going to have much, if any, impact on the Greater Rising Sun and Colora area. On that assertion two people in the audience assured the crowd that BRAC was and is going to have and impact for people from Fort Monmouth are finding this to be a great place to settle.
Of course, Cecil County Government has a full marketing initiative to attract the relocating workers to our area. They hired a full-time marketing person, who sponsors bus tours, fairs and such to get a portion of these relocating workers to move here. In Elkton, the Mayor and Commissiones gave the Elkton Alliance and additional $10,000 to pitch the county seat to these families.
The discussion continued and at one point a representative from the nonprofit said this is the first time we’ve had such a reaction to our proposal since people generally welcome the concept. Finally by 10:00 p.m. the crowd was just beginning to thin as the meeting had broken into informal discussions with the mass transit advocates answering questions in small circles. Overall on this evening as a needed spring rain soaked the county there was not a lot of support for restoring rail service in northwestern Cecil, at least at this meeting.