SLVGO! files objection to sale of SLRG with bankruptcy court

SAN LUIS VALLEY — As per the regulatory objection period for the purchase of the San Luis and Rio Grande Railroad through Chapter 11 bankruptcy court, an objection has been submitted by San Luis Valley Great Outdoors (SLV GO!) and is requesting a setting of a sale hearing before anything moves forward in the bankruptcy bid process.

SLV GO! Submitted its objection at the beginning of November and is awaiting final word on their objection and request for a hearing.

In the document submitted by the local organization it states, “San Luis Valley Great Outdoors (SLV GO!) submits this objection to the trustee’s motion to approve the sale of substantially all of the assets of the SLRG (“OmniTRAX Sale Motion”) and objection of the San Luis Valley Great Outdoors to trustee’s motion for entry of order approving bid procedures and buyer protections and requesting the setting of a sale hearing, filed by William A. Brandt Jr., as chapter 11 trustee in the SLRG case.”

The document explained that by selling to OmniTRAX, the bankruptcy trustee would be significantly and permanently damaging SLV GO!’s efforts to create a trail from Huerfano County through the San Luis Valley and beyond that would be used for recreational purposes and bring in funding from tourism growth here in the San Luis Valley.

The organization also stated that they may have an agreement with two other bidders that have entered the bidding process but that the trustee is pointedly favoring OmniTRAX, according to the document submitted.

“San Luis Valley Great Outdoors is an interested party in the SLRG case because the trustee’s actions regarding the sale of the SLRG to OmniTRAX will significantly impede SLV GO!’s non-profit mission in the San Luis Valley. OmniTRAX is against allowing trail systems within and near its railroad easements, whereas SLV GO! builds and manages community trails throughout the San Luis Valley and is committed to greatly expanding the San Luis Valley Trail System. The SLV GO! long-term plan for such trail expansion necessitates SLV GO! being granted easements within and near the 150 miles of track which are among the assets of SLRG,” the organization stated.

The basis of the objection relies heavily on the need for multi-use recreational trails throughout the San Luis Valley along the length of the track included in the bankruptcy bid. According to the document, OmniTRAX specifically mentions within its Public Project Manual, dated January 2019, “Bicycle/Pedestrian Pathways and Multi-Use Trails, private or public parallel bicycle/pedestrian pathways and trails are not permitted on the OmniTRAX Property. Bycycle/Pedestrian pathways and trails cannot cross tracks at grade outside of existing highway easements… OmniTRAX will oppose condemnation proceedings aimed at recreational use of trackside property.”

The line runs through the expanse of the San Luis Valley through public and private land and through the rails with trails program that SLV GO! is seeking to bring to the Valley would allow recreational use of the trails system along the railroad easements regardless of whether it is on public or private land if the trail is within the easements of the railroad.

SLV GO! estimates in the document that the Rails with Trails System based on recent research could generate an estimated $10 million in income should the project be successful through an agreement with the other two bidders.

The objection may or may not be considered in bankruptcy court as the process moves forward.