Cumberland County Mayor Allen Foster announced a deal had been worked out with Norfolk Southern Railway regarding the railroad property under the Art Circle Public Library during Monday’s county commission meeting.

“We are the owners of the railroad property under the library. It’s been a priority since day one. It’s something I went to work on right away when I came into office,” Foster said.

He said the original agreement with the county was $45,000, and they had been negotiating.

“We got it for $23,500 and I just signed the paperwork for it today,” Foster said.

The case began in 2017 when the county was informed by Norfolk Southern Railway that a portion of the Art Circle Public Library and its parking lot were built on property owned by the railroad.

A $40,000 purchase price was originally offered to the county.

Former County Mayor Kenneth Carey Jr. addressed the building and grounds committee and said he was contacted by Norfolk Southern and an attorney informing the county that a portion of the library property was located on property owned by the railway.

Carey explained the property was from where the old railroad came through town. The train tracks were removed more than 20 years ago.

Carey told the committee he had learned there was no title insurance on the property. He was not clear on the details of the land transfer or survey as the project had been completed under the prior county mayor administration and former county attorney. 

The county's building and grounds committee recommended to the budget committee and county commission to purchase the piece of property for $40,000. The action was recommended to the county commission, and it was approved.

Carey said he contacted the company within days of the county’s approval, but he was told the company needed to do more research before finalizing the sale. 

Norfolk Southern backed out of the deal in December 2017. They then increased the price to $45,000.

The county commission approved spending the additional $5,000, but Norfolk Southern refused the sale.

The county commission authorized Foster to look into the matter and negotiate after he was elected in 2018.

Gary Nelson may be reached at