Kudos to Paul Bahnmaier and Lecompton Township for taking steps necessary to right a wrong after the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad made a mess of a scenic stretch of road in the community.
BNSF Railroad recently cleared trees for about a half-mile stretch of North 2050 Road in Lecompton. The trees were cleared to make room for four power poles that will carry an electrical line to serve a switching box for the railroad.
Lecompton officials were not informed of the project. Bahnmaier’s assessment is the trees were butchered, severely altering the landscape and views along the road.
Worse, the felled trees were not cleared and stacked after the work was done.
“A bunch of people who drive that road complained about the mess,” said Keith Noe, treasurer for Lecompton Township. “In my opinion, it was a mess. You can’t even use it for firewood, because it’s just a bunch of broken-up trees that are not even stacked.”
Bahnmaier, president of the Lecompton Historical Society, helped arrange a meeting last week at the site with BNSF representative Mark Hunter. Bahnmaier also got an aide for U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, State Sen. Marci Francisco and Douglas County Public Works staffers Chad Voigt and Mike Kelly to attend the roadside meeting.
At the meeting, Hunter pledged the site would be cleaned by the end of March and that the railroad would reseed a sloped dropoff left barren by the tree removal.
Township officials said they were pleased with the result, adding that it wouldn’t have happened without Bahnmaier’s persistence.
Bahnmaier said he was disappointed by the process that led to the felling of the trees, most notably that town officials weren’t notified before it happened and thus had no input on the project.
“Unbeknownst to any governing jurisdiction, the railroad and the electrical company butchered 150 years of history and natural beauty,” he said. “It’s great that they are going to clean it up, but who’s to say this can’t happen again without them notifying anyone?”
Bahnmaier’s right. In the future, let’s hope the railroad or any other utility approach town ship officials before deciding to significantly alter aspects of the historic community.