Ballard Terminal Railroad sues to delay Kirkland trail project

Screen Shot 2013-04-03 at 9.56.42 AMThe Ballard Terminal Railroad has filed a Federal lawsuit to stop the City of Kirkland from tearing out unused rail tracks on a segment of the Eastside Rail Corridor through the city. Kirkland recently purchased the segment with the intent of installing an interim soft trail until a permanent trail and possibly even passenger rail service can be designed and funded.

If the name “Ballard Terminal Railroad” rings a bell, that because they are also among the appellants fighting—you guessed it—the Burke-Gilman Missing Link completion in Ballard. That court case has seen more than a decade of lawsuits and delays that continue to this day. Meanwhile, people continue to crash—breaking bones or worse—on the unsafe industrial streets that stand between the trail’s popular segments.

We have held out hope in the past that the Ballard Terminal Railroad Company is not so bad. After all, in 2011 they pitched in to fix a slippery rubber mat that was causing crashes on the Burke-Gilman Trail. But the latest lawsuit is definitely discouraging.

So why would the Ballard Terminal Railroad be suing to stop a trail project in Kirkland?

They want to restart freight rail service. Not passenger or commuter service like many hope will someday serve the corridor, but freight service. I’m sure that’s hardly what the residents of Kirkland and businesses—notably Google—investing near the corridor had in mind when the city purchased the property.

City Manager Kurt Triplett, who has been a staunch supporter of the trail plans, voiced his disappointment in a letter to the community:

Dear Community Member,

It is with great disappointment that I share with you that the City of Kirkland was served on April 1, 2013 with a Federal lawsuit which seeks to stop the City from removing the rail tracks and ties along the Cross Kirkland Corridor.   The lawsuit was filed by Ballard Terminal Railroad Company (“Ballard”) in Federal District Court in the Western District of Washington.  In addition to the injunction, Ballard has filed a petition with the federal Surface Transportation Board (“STB”) seeking to reactivate the Eastside Rail Corridor for freight service from Woodinville to Bellevue, WA.   These actions make it necessary for the City to carefully evaluate Ballard’s claims and to consider our legal options.

As you may be aware, the City has hired a contractor to remove the rails to make way for an Interim Trail along the Cross Kirkland Corridor.  The removal has been anticipated to begin this month; with construction of the Interim Trail to begin this fall. We intend to keep with the community’s desire to allow use of the trail as soon as possible, even if it requires us to put our plans on hold as we take time to better understand the impacts of the lawsuit and petition.

The Cross Kirkland Corridor is 5.75 miles of the 44+ mile Eastside Rail Corridor (ERC).  Apart from the segments owned by the City of Kirkland and the City of Redmond, the ERC has been recently acquired by King County.

It is our initial understanding that Ballard seeks to keep Kirkland from removing the rails on our Corridor so that freight use can be re-established.  We are hopeful that the Federal District Court will rule on the injunction case in the coming weeks and that the STB decision regarding Ballard’s request to reactivate our Corridor as a freight (not transit or excursion train) corridor will also be expedited.

We are confident that Kirkland will ultimately be able to carry out our citizens’ vision for the Corridor.  However, there are many complexities to this issue and your understanding and patience is appreciated.  Updates will be released through the City’s email notification subscriber lists and posted to the Cross Kirkland Corridor webpage at www.kirklandwa.gov/crosskirklandcorridor.

If you have a specific question, please send it to Pam Bissonnette, Director, Public Works Department, at 425-587-3802 or pbissonnette@kirklandwa.gov.

Sincerely,

Kurt Triplett
City Manager
City of Kirkland

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36 Responses to Ballard Terminal Railroad sues to delay Kirkland trail project

  1. Chuck says:

    Man, I wish this was an April Fools joke. Looks like that section would be a great connection from the new 520 trail and the Sammamish River Trail in the future. Hope it works out.

  2. Matthew says:

    If you’d like to voice your displeasure directly:

    Ballard Terminal Railroad
    4725 Ballard Ave. NW
    Seattle, WA 98107-4810
    Tel: 206-782-1447

    EDITOR’S NOTE: I removed what appeared to be private email addresses.

  3. Anthony says:

    Wow, what an amazingly hypocritical piece by the blog. Here we are asking to have more cars and trucks removed from the road, the simplest solution to that is by using existing rail. There is no better way to help keep congestion down than by using freight cars instead of trucks. I can’t stand those wanna-be cyclists who get pissed at the RR tracks and trains because they have been delayed for a few minutes, then vociferously complain about the increasing amount of traffic.

    Yes, once again using existing rail. And here the Ballard Terminal is doing exactly that. I suggest if you would really like to see some improvements or don’t like what is or isn’t happening, then get serious and blame the city. They refuse for the most part to go after drivers who are constant threats to us riders, do half-ass improvements, or worse, pretend to do improvements but really are safety hazards spent with taxpayers money.

    Hmm, we need to worry about Ballard Terminal more than the city or any local ‘burb? I think not, unfortunately this original post smacks of paranoia and misinformation. Last, thanks for the links and numbers. I am going to call them and tell em that a daily cyclist actually supports them, plus a few more after I get done talking to more cyclists about this grossly misplaced post.

    • Gary says:

      “getting trucks off the road”… and just what freight are they going to haul? The route South is blocked at the 405 crossing which is no more. The tracks have been in place for years and Bellevue has grown significantly in the last 30, yet I have yet to hear that any construction waste was transported via rail..

      More info on the pro-rail use can be found here: crosscut.com/2012/11/13/transportation/111465/eastside-rail-humpty-dumpty-northwest-transportation

    • Al Dimond says:

      If Ballard Terminal Railroad wanted to run trains on these tracks they came late to the party. They could have bought the tracks before Kirkland did, made a counter-offer, offered to pay the previous owner for access… it’s not like Kirkland made the purchase in secret or hid its intentions!

      Generally I think the NIMBY rail opposition along the Kirkland corridor is silly (I actually grew up near freight tracks and I generally think if you buy property adjacent to a railroad you should expect a train might come down it), but suing to block Kirkland’s work at this stage is ridiculous.

      It’s possible they could get some limited number of trucks off the road. Cars, not any time soon.

  4. Julian says:

    Anthony, welcome to a controversy that may predate you, a bit. The BTR was formed as a means for certain Ballard businesses to oppose completion of the Missing Link. It runs just enough to serve as greenwashing for those businesses. I like rail as much as the next guy, but this is straight-up obstructionist BS, right from the Missing Link playbook. Don’t fall for it.

    • Paul says:

      BTR was formed when BN cut service to three businesses in Ballard in 1997, to provide continuing service there. Welcome to history that may predate you. :)

  5. Anthony says:

    Gary, the waste IS hauled by rail, all the way to Roosevelt down in the Gorge east of Wishram. You may not have seen them, but the bulk of Seattle and vicinity garbage is brought to a transfer facility in Everett and at Argo Yard below downtown via trucks with containers. The more elimination of rail in any sort only aggravates this problem.

    Julian, this controversy is something I am very familiar with. I work only two blocks fro the missing link portion, and your statement that the Ballard Terminal was formed solely to obstruct the trail is so misleading that it is laughable. Worse, this type of purposeful misinformation does serious harm to any sort of cycling related causes.

    Al, your point is something I can see some serious merit in, but heck, they (BTR) waited like any corporate outfit that wants to see if they somehow get the line for a lower price, and let the county try it out first to find the price. That I don’t like.

    Still, if anyone here is serious about reducing trucks and cars on the eastside, scrapping the rail line is the silliest thing that can be done. If the Burke Gilman had been converted to light rail back in 198o something after freight rail was no longer needed, then we would have a excellent transit route into the city relieving of us of traffic in spades.

    As it stands, we have instead a bike path which sucks in so many ways. Parents think its OK to train their five old on the trail, joggers take up both sides, the list is endless. I rode that piece of junk for years everyday and lamented the fact that it wasn’t better used.

    So, convert the Kirklnad trail and get the same results. Yeah, that is the ticket….

    • Gary says:

      Not the waste from Bellevue on those tracks prior to the removal of the Wilburton overpass. Your argument is a red herring for this section of track. It’s like arguing since that railroad freight hauls all the coal from Wyoming to Alabama we should save a line that runs from Bellevue to Woodinville. It’s apples to oranges.

      Besides BN abandoned that line for a reason and it wasn’t because they were using that track.

    • Kevin in Ballard says:

      Anthony,

      I’ll bite too. The BTRR was started by the owner of a Sand and Gravel Company, with some other businesses, when they recognized (very smartly, in fact) that unless they could get control of the public right of way along Shilshole Ave, it would be very tempting and very easy to build the BGT along the rail right of way.

      They were able to secure a sweet no-cost deal for operating a marginal freight rail business – though the presence of the rail is not currently an impediment to shared rail-trail use in Ballard, the presence of the rail line has complicated the planning and design of the trail.(as they hoped it would, you can bet). Yes, shipping cement to a concrete plant by rail is marginally more ecological than shipping by truck, but at what collateral cost? Is this the best use of public right of way and dollars? Should we subsidize the operations of a private company that already benefits beyond measure from use of the right of way?

      I don’t know enough about the eastside issue to know if this is just an attempt by Byron and Co. to poke a stick in someone’s eye. Don’t assume that it is beyond him and his buddies to do so, as they have likely spent hundreds of thousands to poke that stick in the eye of us Seattlelites. See Tacoma for BTRR activities as well. The Meeker Southern may have been started to stop a trail as well.

      http://www.altamontpress.com/discussion/read.php?1,70836,70836,quote=1

      • cnw8717 says:

        Meeker Southern was started because BNSF wanted to stop using the line because it was too expensive to send a 3 man union crew to switch the line. The business on the line still wanted rail service hence why Ballard Terminal started the railroad up, and for the nimby crowd. There currently is a bike trail next to the entire Meeker Southern mainline that works very well. Nobody is complaining about the railroad tracks being there.

      • Paul says:

        I think you have good points about what’s the best use of public funds and property. However, I find myself unsympathetic in general to your arguments because so much seems based on simply animosity to the BTR because they dare to have a different priority for the corridor, and they have prior legal right of way.

        BTR was build to service three businesses, including a seafood company. Perhaps these businesses simply wanted to continue to use a service that existed for decades. Are you demonizing them simply because that is opposed to your desire for the same resource? Your accusation seems heavy on mind-reading and “likely”.

    • Al Dimond says:

      Yeah, Anthony, nobody uses the Burke-Gilman anymore, it’s too crowded.

      The Burke would have been a lousy passenger rail line because so much of its walkshed is steep hillside, water, and highway, and to go downtown we’d have needed similar expenditures as we do for Link today; the Kirkland corridor is much the same, and no similar passenger rail plan exists for either. The Burke is an excellent bike path because of its even grade, and because immediate walkshed is less important with a bike path; the Kirkland corridor is much the same, and a bike path is eagerly anticipated.

  6. LMB says:

    Anthony – The BGT is a multi-use trail, not a speed corridor only for cyclists. Rather than simply lambaste it, maybe you could help out by sincerely educating people which side they should ride/walk/jog/bike on. There is much advocacy work to be done, and it looks like you could channel your passion into something positive instead of spreading blame. Good luck!

  7. Anthony says:

    LMB, I fully understand your point on this. I agree that being helpful is the first priority while on the BGT.

    I cannot tell you how many times I have helped people on the BGT while either on the way to, or returning from my gig as a wrench. Extricated pedals from others rear wheels, fixed flats and given away spare tubes, several times over, and more.

    The simple fact is that people who might think in a sane manner while driving their car on I-5 don’t seem to apply the same logic when it comes to their children on the BGT. It is like they all of a sudden decided to hell with any rules regarding other trail users, all because their kid so “precious” and their budding cycling is more important than my safety.

    Those people are self-centered at that particular moment, and if they had to deal with scenario like this while on the freeway, they would be irate to say the least.

    I have a lot of passion for this, but not enough to want to deal with egotistical parents and their off-spring.

  8. Shawn says:

    Anthony’s anti-trail jeremiad notwithstanding, the Ballard Terminal Railroad’s lawsuit is nothing less than an attempt to use the courts to appropriate a public asset for private gain. This isn’t an ‘advocacy issue'; this is just business as usual in America today.

  9. Julian says:

    OK, Anthony, I’ll bite, although I suspect you’re trolling here, and I honestly wonder if you aren’t a SBSG shill.

    What purpose more important than blocking the Missing Link and serving as a hobby for choochoo enthusiasts does the BTR serve currently?

    Please keep in mind who funded and funds it, and who its one or two remaining customers are, and how often it (doesn’t) run.

    Also, as one of those egotistical parents with offspring, your BGT comments come off quite douchey. Think of it as a longitidinal park. Legally that’s what it is. I’ll work on my kids, but guess what, you might actually have to slow down and pass carefully when you’re riding in this multiuse park. Stay on the road if you’re in angry Fred mode.

  10. Anthony says:

    Julian, let me state unequivocally that I have no affiliation with Salmon Bay or Ballard Terminal. I have zero interest in either group with the exception that I like the BTR’s switcher, built circa 1939.

    Also, if you are the same Julian that works at a well known LBS in downtown Seattle, I have nothing but respect for you and your awesome co-worker. Just supported you guys(if its you) last month, and will continue to do so despite our differences on this.

    As for the trail, let me state that I am not anti-trail! I support the BGT, but what I have been trying to say is that it could have been better utilized initially, and in its current state we need to understand that its role is overstated as a bike path. LMB said it best, its a multi-use path, so that makes it worthless for regular commuters at certain times of the day, I know all too well.

    What the scary part I see is this: as cyclists we need to start focusing on getting our STREETS back. Sure paths are OK, but it is the regular street network where most cyclists ride that need the biggest amount of help. The more we try and get multi-use paths installed, the bigger the gap we are creating in losing the war on being safe on a regular street. The latest scenario is the old “separate but equal” thing, give us bike paths so we can get kicked off the street. That is what many drivers want, and cyclists are caving into it.

    We should be focusing our attention on getting safe street riding combined with proper driver awareness and respect for us cyclists as road users. Instead you guys are promoting a path that will increase traffic and other issues, and working to remove a viable functioning transportation network. I hate to say it, but this type of bike promotion works against us in the long run.

    Plus, I am no speeder, though I admit I was about fifteen years ago. What I am asking for while underway on the BGT is to be able to ride unimpeded and safely for the most part. Their are many parents out there that do a great job mending to their kids on the trail, but even just a few who don’t end up creating havoc. I applaud the ones who do try, thank you.

    Sure, my comments may have wrankled you, but oh well. My safety is first while on the trail, and if it takes comments like that to get peoples attention to make sure I can ride safely, so be it. I’m in angry Fred mode only here while on the blog, because while on the trail I was extremely nice to you(possibly) and others since you didn’t have the nicety to understand that there are other people who live a daily life and don’t really have an interest in your children, and of course you were too interested in li’l Jimmy’s smile while riding his new bike to pay attention to other trail users.

    As for the Missing Link, the BTR when it started had nothing to do with purposeful trail obstruction of any sort, you need to put that notion and misinformation to rest. The BTR took over the remnants of the old BN branch serving the steel mill and Salmon Bays’ cement thingy on Leary.

    Maybe the blog and others here don’t know it, but this branch has hauled a lot of freight and helped develop Ballard, in the process that has resulted in the reduction of many truckloads that otherwise would have been needed.

    If we are serious about promoting cycling, then we need to look at the bigger picture and question whether a bike path is more important than working on our streets for safer cycling, and using the paths we have in a manner that benefits the daily bike commuter more.

    • biliruben says:

      There is always going to be some conflict on the the Burke, between those on it using it effectively as a bike highway, the way I use it for the most part, and those who are legitimately using it in other ways, either as pedestrians or slower wheeled uses.

      Unfortunately, that era, at least in the summer, and south of about 65th, of being able to ride unimpeded at 15-20 mph on this stretch of the Burke is over. It’s just not wide enough to allow that sort of riding at current volumes. I have enjoyed using at such for the last 20 years, but we are victims of our own success. There are simply too many users and too much congestion to safely travel at those speeds anymore.

      Fortunately, the Bike Master Plan is attempting to address those issues by proposing on-street facilities such as cycle-tracks and buffered bike lanes along many arterials.

      You should check it out, if you haven’t already. This is where the commuters will end up gravitating, if we can ever get funding for the proposed network.

      Your positively-directed advocacy can help.

    • Julian says:

      Nope, I’m this guy: totcycle.com

      Now perhaps you see why arsey comments directed at parents rankles me a bit. The latest round didn’t help, but oh well. Did you know that families have daily lives too?

      I respectfully disagree about the BTRR motives, especially currently. They’re just not diverting enough truck traffic to greenwash their very active role in obstructing the completion of the Missing Link.

      I was also an original supporter of Seattle Greenways, so no, I’m not working to get us off the streets altogether. I think our bike network needs to take all users into account, from kids to commuters to Freds to grannies. For the willing but wary folks (not you, of course, stretch with me here), separate infrastructure like multiuse trials and cycle tracks should be part of the equation. But so should on-street facilities (those have had their chance in previous planning, no? plenty of crap door zone bike lanes and sharrows put in recently).

  11. Anthony says:

    Julian, I understand why the comments would rankle you. Clearly from your link (which has been some time since I’ve seen it), that the directions you give your children while underway on the trail are something many more parents could learn to do. Good posts there, and overall good reading for family cycling.

    Yes, you as a parent have a daily life as well. That was my original point, that as a cyclist we all have a daily life and in the course of pursuing it we need to get from “point A” to “point B” with as minimal hassles as possible.

    That is where I totally respect Bilruben’s point about us being victim’s of our own success. I am hoping for 12mph speeds, but that too seems overly optimistic. In summation, I wish we had a true bike commuter path and then there were separate paths for children and the like to learn riding in a place where they can be safe.

    Even though we may have our differences, I wish you all the safest wherever you ride!

    • biliruben says:

      Yeah, if you search around on this site, you can see films of paths in Europe, in cities with 40% bike mode share. These paths are PACKED. They tootle along at 5 mph, with far more patience than me, though I am trying to change my perspective. I am building in an extra 5-10 minutes for my rides, and enjoying the trip more. If I’m in a hurry, I end up fuming over small things, like 3-abreast walkers, or parents who are doing the best they can to teach our next generation of bikers, but that best is sometimes not good enough. If I let these things get to me, I might as well be in I-5 stuck bumper to bumper.

      • Tom Fucoloro says:

        I’m with you on that. I used to be impatient (first as a driver, then as a new bike commuter). It was actually really empowering when I realized that I could just chill out, take the fun way even if it is a few blocks longer, wait patiently behind lollygaggers with a smile on my face, etc. And in the end, my total travel time is really not much longer than if I was stressed and rushing the whole time.

      • Shawn says:

        As a daily, year-round bike commuter I find that kids/dogs/joggers&headphones/strollers/lolly-gaggers don’t bother me half as much as impatient bike commuters and Freds out training. Sure, I’m trying to get somewhere (my commute is multi-modal, so I’ve got a bus to catch, too), but I’m still on a bike ride.

  12. Julian says:

    Thanks Anthony, great points all, this thread ended well …

  13. Kevin in Ballard says:

    Thanks cnw8717…’There currently is a bike trail next to the entire Meeker Southern mainline that works very well’ – can you get me a link to this? What is it called?
    Thanks.

  14. HW3 says:

    I worry that the conversation here is missing the point.
    This is not about the missing link of the BGT, this is about an already abandoned rail line, already owned by the City of Kirkland. The city is ready to go to make a trail from 520 through Kirkland up to the Totem Lake neighborhood. The bike “friendly” alternatives pale in comparison.
    Additionally, this seems, in my opinion, likely an effort to keep pressure off the other missing link: 12 miles from Woodinville to Snohomish, connecting the southern end of the Centennial Trail to the Sammamish River Trail. Try mapping out bikeable alternatives from Snohomish to Woodinville: they’re not pretty.

  15. Kevin Johnson-Powell says:

    Hi guys,
    I just want to voice my option on this issue. I support the BTR in their law suit. What Kirkland is doing is short sighted. If they go ahead and tear up the tracks that would cut a big whole in a future transit system cutting of Bellevue and Woodinville. There is enough room there to build a trail next to the tracks just like the Meeker Southern. Even if they did run freight trains throw Kirkland it wouldn’t be 100 car coal trains or anything like that. Think one small engine three to four freight cars and a caboose. The railroad whats to run down to Bellevue to service a formerly rail served Safeway bakery. Just my two cents.

  16. Kevin says:

    This article is not well thought out at all. There is solid reason that Ballard Terminal RR is suing to stop the Kirkland city plan. It has nothing to do with being “anti-bike”. The city’s plan is a bad one because it is short sighted. There is zero reason to put the bike path on the tracks. There is room in the corridor for both, side by side. The city wants to scrap the steel and ties for cash. BTR owns three railroads. At the other two, it has donated space and funds to accommodate bike/foot paths next to their right-of-way, so the idea that they are just trying to be obstructionist is absurd on its face. Why think so little as to only come up with an “either or” scenario? Either we have a train line or bike path? There can be both. Smarten up.

    The idea that freight rail service restarting would not be a welcome addition to the area does not pass a logic test. Each railcar holds 2.5-4 truckloads of capacity. Hey, the freight is ALREADY moving on your streets and is increasing. How will a resumption of an alternate means of transport harm the area, other than reducing EXISTING truck traffic??? You may say that it clogs traffic to wait on a locomotive pulling 10 railcars through town. Alright, so tell me then, how does it NOT clog your town when that same fright pulls through on 25-40 trucks??? This assertion is not well thought through is it….

    So why did the use of the line for freight dwindle in the first place? Is it because nobody wants freight rail service? Is it because it cant be moved profitably through there? These are the better questions to ask, an if you were to come to these conclusions you would be dead wrong. This requires a better explanation and so I shall give one in another posting…

  17. Kevin says:

    Transportation companies, like any going concern, have a business model and a target customer base. In the case of the to major railroads in the WA State, of which BNSF is one, their target is the mainline routes where the traffic is dense. They no longer are interested in secondary lines. Most of them they sell off to third party operators. They also are moving toward handling only the largest of businesses. They would rather not even serve medium to small business, and they wish to primarily focus upon containerization of merchandise as much as possible. This is all well and good for them, they drive up profitability by allocating their capital where it will receive the highest return on investment (ROI). However, for those who are not in those target categories, they will not be well served unless the line they are located on is sold to another operator. BTR is exactly this.

    It is only since the late 1980’s that the federal government made it easy for large railroads like BNSF predecessor BN to sell off these lines, and this transfer did not really get into full swing until the mid-1990’s. Before then, rail companies would chase customers away from secondary lines they no longer wanted to focus on, with bad service and high rates so they could then go the federal government for permission to abandon them. So having the latitude to sell to third party operators is much better for the nation all around. Lines which have seen year of neglect in upkeep and customer service have been turned around time and time again by shortline railroads, just like BTR.

    Here is the thing, this line can be totally profitable to operate and customers do want to ship on it. The business was largely chased away by the old owner at a time when that was the only way to refocus their capital where they wanted it. Smart companies set minimum thresholds of profitability for an investment in order to go though with it. So for example, perhaps a railroad for a given year says they will only allocate capital where it will generate a 13% ROI. Now lets say freight on this Eastside line would only generate an 8-9% ROI. Would it be unprofitable as an investment? Of course not, just not profitable ENOUGH for the going concern who has exclusive right to the track. And so the upkeep there gets deferred. Which eventually causes delays and disruptions in service. Customers leave. New accounts are not marketed. This spirals until the line can then be abandoned or sold. The capital is focused upon higher return elsewhere. Good for the parent rail company. Was this any good for the local area? Do you now see the wisdom in a third party taking control the line to operate?

    I am bicycler enthusiast as well. But Kirkland has an amiss strategy. There ought to be a path side by side with the freight rail service.

  18. Kevin says:

    One other thing,

    When the article states this: “Meanwhile, people continue to crash—breaking bones or worse—on the unsafe industrial streets that stand between the trail’s popular segments”. I cringe. When I was very young there was only a fraction of the dedicated bike paths we have now, and we got around everywhere on bike. Yes, the paths are nice, but statements like this make it seem like we never got along before them and cant do any biking except for them now. It sounds really wimpy, devoid of the very spirit of adventure and exploration that put many of us to the pedal in the first place.

    I guess I do have one final thing to add. With respect to calling BTR “obstructionist”. Many of our trails are “rail-trails”, set aside with funding to preserve these corridors for the exact purpose that they can in the future become rail lines again if needed. (Realistically, a dual use regime should be the outcome of such moves). When it comes time for one of the local paths to resume rail service, are you (the author of this article) going to move forward with it, since you already know that was the terms of the funding for these paths in the first place, or will YOU be “obstructing”, even upon a dual use corridor plan? Those days may not be far away, as we are filling our area with more people and industry, and fuel is becoming ever more costly. Food for thought. In the meantime, will you please consider the merit of advocating that Kirkland modify their plan to have DUAL USE of the rail corridor through their town?

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