"JoeCollege" - I'm guessing he is probably not much older than 19 or 20.
So how did the counties get screwed oh knowing one? It's a fairly common arrangement where the county IDA would own the ROW and tracks, and a private company would operate the railroad so industry could remain or expand or build in the area. Or would you prefer the alternative of the lines being abandoned outright, turned in to hiking trails, and NO rail service to the region and factories either close laying off hundreds of people, or resort to more costly 18 wheelers on the road?
A guess nearly as accurate as my guess that you're a recipient of the coveted silver sow award, originally from Dayton, and a bespectacled member of the media. Double your guess, then add a few years, oh knowing one.
Chenango county got bent over and screwed good by DO Corp. (A) there were/are very few businesses in Chenango County that used rail. The discontinuation of service hasn't caused any industry to leave. (B) compared to an unused, weed choked eyesore, I actually would prefer a trail. What I'd actually prefer is service in place now that there's actually some potential demand in the area, but I'd also like the NYOW and UVRR back in place too, which I know ain't happening.
I'd prefer that my town, village, and school district didn't have PILOTS put in place that collected no revenue from DO Corp while the line was in use earning them some money to ship goods to Utica and Sangerfield from the south. So we kinda got screwed out of some money. And now that DO or whatever they're called owns the rail and ties, but doesn't want to use them, the county IDA can't either develop it's own property to its own use or seek other service providers who might be willing to make some infrastructure investments and contribute more than just the occasional eye candy for kooks like me that like to see trains.
Since there are really no jobs in our area dependent on rail, and I am able to see the bigger picture relevant to an area you don't live in, I guess I'm entitled to the opinion that any employer in the area who does want rail service now or in the future, is out of luck, thus screwing the county. The county is also screwed since they own blighted land with potential revenue on it (rail and I believe row for fiber optic lines DO kept) and they can't collect a nickel.
Walter Rich was a great business man, built a rail empire that is/was the envy of many, and by all accounts a really swell guy. I just think that the deal the counties settled for was a bust for them. I think other than the dog food company in Sherburne, the occasional lumber transload there, and the mills in Sangerfield, there were no customers most of the past 15-20 years in Chenango and Madison counties. Just a taxable revenue source of dubious local benefit. Since we hadn't received tax revenue, it wouldn't have mattered if they stopped in 1982 or 2006.
There is no bigger advocate of rail service than me. I'd like nothing more than to see GVT, LAL group, etc take over this line and get service going, serve the potential need of some new businesses, and maybe even employ some locals themselves. But I hope if the county can ever find a clause to exercise to gain full control of the line, that they consider not letting the lessee control capital infrastructure utilization so entirely.