Carbon County officials want answers in regard to the railroad it owns.

During the county commissioners' meeting on Thursday, the board entered into an agreement with Strauss and Associates/Planners of Trenton, N.J., for professional land planning, meeting support, review of legal use and occupancy rights pursuant to the C&S Railroad agreement and subsequent tracking agreements. The total cost of his services shall not exceed $7,500.

Commissioner William O'Gurek, chairman, explained that the action the board took was the next step in determining "who manages what" in the rail yards and what the county actually owns in regard to the railroad it purchased in the 1980s. Carbon County currently owns 21 miles of railroad from Packerton Yards in Lehighton to Rush Township, Schuylkill County.

The county hired Andy Strauss of Strauss and Associates/Planners in September 2009 to review all deeds, the title of the property, easements, engineering data, identify mile posts and the Nesquehoning Branch Line 1009, and anything associated with the rail line and non-rail real estate. The total for that agreement was not to exceed $10,000.

Strauss went to Washington D.C., where everything was located, and completed extensive research on the matter. He has since finished and compiled all findings for the county, who plans to now meet with C&S Railroad, the company hired to manage the county's railroad; and Reading and Northern Railroad.

O'Gurek said the information will be used to answer numerous questions and create a more specific management agreement.

"We have a management agreement with C&S Railroad that is best described as being general in nature," he said. "There have been beliefs and thoughts all over the board about who manages what property, so we intend to have discussions with C&S and Reading and Northern railroads over Andy's findings. Our intent and hope is to better define for all parties, who has control or management rights of what particular parcels."

The next step is to schedule the meeting between the three parties and begin sifting through Strauss' findings. No date for the meeting has been announced at this time.