The city of Fort Bragg, Calif., is creating a stink over the intentions of the owners of the Skunk Train.
The city council voted to send a letter to the U.S. DOT asking the agency to deny Mendocino Railway’s application for a Railroad Rehabilitation & Improvement Financing loan. The money would supposedly be used to repair a collapsed rail tunnel that sits between Fort Bragg and Willits. In the letter, city officials say Mendocino Railways, which has been running an excursion train called the Skunk Train, is not a public utility and does not qualify for federal funds.
However, the fight between the city and the railroad company is about land. On Nov. 19 Mendocino Railways purchased 272 acres of land from Georgia Pacific for $1.23 million. The company wants to develop the site for tourists. The city wants to use the land for ocean water intake/discharge infrastructure to support aquariums and research at the Noyo Center’s Ocean Science Facility. A complaint was filed with the Mendocino County Superior Court that stated the railway should no longer be considered a public utility because it is only an excursion train.
The city also wants to clean up the site, and says in its letter to the U.S. DOT that Mendocino Railways would used the federal loan to solidify its status as a public utility and would not clean up the site.