Archive for Thursday, June 26, 2008

A look inside a now-controversial train depot

The city's looking to purchase, and eventually renovate, a train depot in East Lawrence. But, not everyone's on board.

June 26, 2008


Every morning at 5:30, Marty Kennedy volunteers to go to the Amtrak train station in East Lawrence to greet people getting on and off the train.

"Welcome to Lawrence!" Kennedy said, as he led us inside the station.

Two passenger trains go in and out of the depot every day and Kennedy's embarrassed by the first impression the train station gives Lawrence. The roof leaks, the clock doesn't work, the air conditioner's broken and some of the doors won't open.

Now Kennedy and a group of concerned citizens are ready to spruce up the building.

"We're going to see if this '56 relic can be reused and really enjoyed by the community," he said.

But, it could get expensive to renovate. It will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to make the entryways and restrooms ADA compliant by 2010. Altogether, preliminary estimates put the cost of repairs at $500,000.

The railroad's offered to sell the building to the city of Lawrence for $1, but Vice-mayor Rob Chestnut said the city shouldn't have to take on all the repair costs.

"The railroad, in my mind, has a responsibility to maintain that facility now as a private property owner," Chestnut said. "My hope is, is that even as we move into negotiations, that they'll start to do some repairs."

Chestnut was the only commissioner to vote against entering into negotiations with the railroad to purchase the building. Now's not the time, he said.

But, the group of concerned citizens is glad the city is jumping on board its plans to revitalize the building.

The group is planning a thorough cleanup of the depot in the next several days.

About 3,700 customers use the Amtrak depot each year.


monkeyhawk 9 years ago

Add Marty Kennedy to the list of the "Enemies of Your Wallet". I used to kind of like him and gave him quite a bit of my money freely - in exchange for goods and services. Now he just wants me to give him my money.Maybe he would like to have the building named after him? Might not be a bad idea for things like the T, Eagle Bend, homeless shelters, roundabouts, etc. to be named after those responsible for milking us for their perceived wants.As a former commissioner, as well as former mayor, one would think that he might understand fiscal responsibility. But, I guess frivolity is a requirement to hold office in this place.

blessed3x 9 years ago

3,700 visitors per year.$5 for a beer from Free State.3700 x 5.00=$18,500$500,000/$18,500=27 years of free beer to visitors from abroad. Get 'em liquored up and the state of the building won't even matter.

notajayhawk 9 years ago

JackRipper (Anonymous) says: >>>"Railroad stations should be owned, operated, and maintained by railroad companies, not cities.""Just like the majority of the highways."This may come as a big shock to you, Jackie - just like anything based in fact and reality usually does - but cities don't own "the majority of the highways."And to save you the trouble, Jackie, since you're probably going to ask who does own the highways - they're owned by the people who use them every day, the people who paid for them with their tax dollars.It's too bad the people who ride trains can't make the same claim.

trinity 9 years ago

27 June 2008 at 8:48 a.m.Suggest removal PermalinkMultidisciplinary (Anonymous) says: Maybe we'll get lucky and a trail will derail, taking the building out before this comes to a head.I'm betting the railroad wouldn't pay to rebuild it in those circumstances.ouch. a little cruel, eh? like or dislike the plans-just seems rather hateful to wish harm on people. and trains and sometimes the station contain people.

George_Braziller 9 years ago

Title II of the ADA requires access to public transportation. Why didn't accessibility modifications take place a decade ago? The city should not be responsible for these needed changes. Make the railroad and Amtrak pony up. It was their legal responsibility to start with.

Tony Kisner 9 years ago

Multi - "I wonder how Marty would feel if when he gets cancer, the money that should have gone to help the hospice building was spent on a useless train station instead."Multi, do you not respect karma at all?

HalsteadHawk 9 years ago

I'd rather see the money spent on the awful east lawrence roads. I could care less about this train station.

50YearResident 9 years ago

Maybe The City of Lawrence can use the building to store their Cemetery's maintenance equipment in.

jafs 9 years ago

If Marty Kennedy wants to fix it up, be my guest!Railroad stations should be owned, operated, and maintained by railroad companies, not cities.

HootyWho 9 years ago

Awful East Lawrence Roads??? Lawrence as a whole has worse streets than any place i've ever beenthe train station can wait,,hell the RR doesn't even want to fix it,,why should the city?

notajayhawk 9 years ago

blessed3x has by far the best suggestion.And his math is better than the people who want to waste more money on train stations.

pace 9 years ago

The train depot is great, The city taking it on is great. The controversy is not on the depot, it is investing in East lawrence, cost less than a roundabout and will do more good.

Haiku_Cuckoo 9 years ago

$500,000 to fix the doors and repair the air conditioner??? Where do I sign up to bid on this job?

cato_the_elder 9 years ago

This is simply another pet project of a few people. Get real, Commissioners - if Marty wants it that badly, he can approach the railroad and seek to purchase it himself or on behalf of his small group. If they won't sell it to a consortium of local individuals, then the Commission needs to Say No.

loki8025 9 years ago

I posted earlier but I don't see it. That is good because I typed before I thought. I agree elder cato. 3,700 passengers a year? There are enough projects that are way more worthy in money and time than this.

bearded_gnome 9 years ago

consumer1:right on!!!!blessed3X, that was funny and correct! lmao! pace:this has nothing to do with it being in east lawrence. I lived in east lawrence for something like 22 years, and i often did perceive the city of lawrence's neglect there! however, this issue is about the limited funds this city has, for, well, fixing east lawrence streets/sidewalks! in the recently unveiled plan, too much goes to lawrence west of iowa, but at least there's some for east lawrence. no, the problem is that we're going to have an election on sales taxes just to try to fix our own streets! and, FGS we don't need to add $60,000 annual, unsupported by grants, maintenance money demanded by this building, or more demands on city staff! preliminary estimates put the cost of repairs at $500,000.---from story.
patently false! $400,000 low estimate for the ada compliance work; way over $100,000 for other fixes like the tile, roof, clock, etc. then, the annual maintenance. does that maintenance include the utilities? and, to add to the cost, making it publicly owned will take it off of the property tax rolls! my math puts that way over $1 million! if you throw in the obligatory consultant, perhaps a junket for some staff and commissioners to go to another city to see what they're doing with an old station, etc., you're startin' to push $2 million! that's enough to buy several roundabouts [gag], or better yet, fix a lot of broken streets*! if we took $2 million, you think we could get a mental health ward at lmh then? you bet! so, we need a refurbished old run-of-the-mill train station more than we need a better means to save lives? we need that station more than fixing streets?

BigPrune 9 years ago

It needs new windows and glass doors. Hmmmm. ADA power button for an ADA door about $15 grand. New windows, new roof, new ADA bathrooms - $10 grand for each bathroom max....I just don't see this little building costing $500K to repair. Who did they get an estimate from? Did someone just pull a figure out of their *ss? I'd like to know their name so I know who to avoid if I ever need work done.

bearded_gnome 9 years ago

in the title,"controversial" ... they got a brainwave there's controversy about this? wow, they read the comments to figger that out? nota,I see that Jackie is up to his usual foolishness. again, socialism is the government building things! wonder, did this guy even graduate from high school? to call him dense would be a compliment.
*I like riding Amtrak. it is often a very enjoyable way to travel! my concern is simply, we have this little pressure group coming up with ways to bleed more money from the city, many in the group belong to other liberal pressure groups. instead of trying to put a cup under the city's money barrel, try some other source to finance this!

bearded_gnome 9 years ago

BP,I think besides what you listed, there's a couple ramps, doorways have to be widened, not just replaced with electric door. probably thanks to federal regs, the platform has to have some refinishing, including smoothing and treating the concrete, and adding a small warning strip paralel to the rails. for that building, the ada stuff is a long list for such a small building. heck, there's probably some reg about the clock too!***hey, nota, imagine if we had the mental health ward up and running at lmh now! jackie could've gotten the treatment he obviously needs, already. and, he'd be a functioning positive member of society again.

notajayhawk 9 years ago

Arguing with you is becoming increasingly pointless, Jackie, since with every word you post it becomes increasingly obvious to all that you don't have the foggiest idea of what you're talking about. This is how you continuously earn the title of troll, Jackie, because anyone who is capable of typing on a computer can not possibly be as stupid as you pretend to be.When the people own things through the government it is not socialism, Jackie, when the government or society as an entity in itself owns everything and the people have no ownership rights, that is socialism. Like when you try to tell me that I don't have the right to use whatever gasoline I can afford to buy because those resources belong to the country, the society as a whole, and I have no inherent right to consume them as I see fit. Or that I have an obligation to financially support a mode of transportation that is deemed better for society as a whole no matter what is better for me personally, or that I don't have a right to work and live where I choose even when it's best for my family because a handful of people say I'm using resources I have no right to.Luckily, Jackie, I do have those rights, as this is not a socialist country, no matter how the miniscule and insignificant group of fringe lunatics like you think otherwise. Thankfully, Jackie, even with the leftist leanings of so many people on the award-winning LJW message boards, there's only a couple of similar fruitcakes who agree with you, and the rest of us are free to live our lives as we choose and ignore the mumblings of an old fool who just doesn't understand.

notajayhawk 9 years ago

"hey, nota, imagine if we had the mental health ward up and running at lmh now! jackie could've gotten the treatment he obviously needs, already. and, he'd be a functioning positive member of society again."While I agree with the first part, gnome, the last part is a major leap of faith.

notajayhawk 9 years ago

bearded_gnome (Anonymous) says:"he really does seem to have some kind of problem about railroads. you suppose he suffered a head injury in a train accident?"It doesn't impress me as organic - he can still type (so much the pity), so his motor and language skills are grossly intact, even if his comprehension is limited. I'm leaning more towards Axis II.

notajayhawk 9 years ago

Wow, JackRipper found some numbers! On a point that we've already discussed a million times, too!Say, Jackie-boy, did the National Association of Railroad Passengers happen to check their math? You've only accounted for 82% - musta' been an oversoght.But okay, for the sake of demonstrating once again how ludicrous your claims are, Jackie, answer me this: Is the NARP - or are you - claiming that the 25.7% of road costs that are paid for through general revenue, property, and other taxes and fees don't also come out of the pockets of the people who use the roads? We - the 99% of us that don't ride the trains - don't pay those taxes, Jackie? For the umpteenth time, Jackie, and I really do pity you that you can't understand this, it really can't be put any more simply: Since everyone benefits from the roads, the 25% of road funding that comes from indirect sources still is paid by the people who use the roads. Since 1% of long-distance travel miles are made by train, the 50% of Amtrak's operating costs that come from those same tax revenues is not being paid by the same people who use the trains.Hey, let's look at some of the other 'myth debunking' from your link, Jackie. I really liked #3 - when you have 60 or 70 people crowded into a relatively tiny corridor, trains are viable. Now, maybe you haven't noticed, Jackie, but Lawrence isn't Boston and Oklahoma City isn't New York. Are you really that deluded, Jackie, really, to think that extending the Southwest Chief into Kansas will bring the kind of ridership numbers that they have on the East Coast?How about #1, Jackie - yes, the polls say we're in favor of maintaining federal spending on Amtrak. One thing your polls didn't say, Jackie: How many are in favor of spending more money and expanding the system? Hmm - wonder why they left that out. And by the way, Jackie, while 70% of people say they're okay with the level of money we subsidize your choo-choos with, 99% of them are still not spending any money to actually ride the trains themselves, are they?Keep trying, Jackie, keep trying - they say an infinite number of monkeys on an infinite number of typewriters will eventually write Shakespearre, so I guess it's theoretically possible that eventually you'll make a valid point.

50YearResident 9 years ago

City of Lawrence's new credo: "We have to buy it to Save it". IE, Cemetery, Farmland, Old library and others to name a few.

notajayhawk 9 years ago

JackRipper (Anonymous) says: "Yes, we all have the right but it didn't come from free market choices it came from government involvement. There are different levels of socialism and if the road is owned, controlled, maintained by the government then how in the world is that anything like free enterprise?"I've changed my mind, Jackie. Please keep posting, it's the weekend and I can use the laughs.I've asked you this many times, Jackie, and for some strange reason you never answer. But who is this 'government' you keep referring to (the ones that were involved in the great conspiracy to take away your choo-choos), and where does their money come from? To save you from overtaxing your tired little brain, I'll tell you that the answer to both questions is the same single word: "us."When we - the 99% of the US population that chooses not to ride your choo-choos - cast our votes to elect a representative government to spend the money we give them on the things we want, not to mention when we cast our votes directly on bond issues and tax increases earmarked for road building or improvements, yes, Jackie, that is the free market at work, with the government serving as any other provider of services.All of which is academic, Jackie. Your entire argument rests on the hilariously ludicrous contention that we bought cars because the government built roads, and not the other way around. I'm sure you're old enough to remember that the Model T came before the federal highway system, Jackie, and while I have no doubt your level of intelligence is below the level needed to be measurable in human terms, it takes a moron of truly monumental proportions to believe anything other than the roads were built in response to the American public's choice to drive cars. And the free market is still in play, Jackie. We - the 99% of us who don't share your delusions - register 250,000,000 passenger vehicles that we bought and paid for, not the government. We choose to take 10 times as many trips by plane as we do by train - we even choose to take 3 times as many trips by intercity bus. Your precious choo-choos went the way of the dodo bird (well, the rest of them, except for you) because we chose to stop riding on them, we chose to spend our travel dollars elsewhere, not because of your paranoid delusions dealing with some great government conspiracy."Remember, no one is trying to take away your car"Yeah, I got that, from your rantings about how driving cars is unethical and immoral and commuting is insane and sprawl is the great evil of our times. But in any case, Jackie, nobody is trying to take away your trains, either. Just pay for them yourself, the way those of us who use the roads - which is to say everyone - pay for them ourselves.

bearded_gnome 9 years ago

"hey, nota, imagine if we had the mental health ward up and running at lmh now! jackie could've gotten the treatment he obviously needs, already. and, he'dbe a functioning positive member of society again."While I agree with the first part, gnome, the last part is a major leap of faith.---Nota.well, you're right, as exemplified by his last post! his previous post, interstate highways "sprawling." this one, his struggle...he still has some fixation about you and big trucks Nota. and, at the beginning of his last demented post, he implies that rights come from government involvement! apparently, he needs to reread the declaration of independence! it also seems that in his tortured mind, he imagines some great societal upwelling coming. that does sound symptomatic. and, as to the many panels you spend on attacks, invariably Nota, it is he who attacks first, so you suppose he is engaging in a psychological defense mechanism: projection? he really does seem to have some kind of problem about railroads. you suppose he suffered a head injury in a train accident?

Richard Heckler 9 years ago

It is good to prepare the station for more travel and commuter train travel. The day of reckoning might not be far beyond when Lawrence notices bus and taxis awaiting the arrival of commuters to carry them on to their local destinations.Grant money may well be available to assist in rehabilitating the train station. All in all this will cost taxpayers much less than any one of North Lawrence warehouse projects,Schwada warehouse project or the Fritzel downtown project.Yes to the train station,more bike trails and fix the sidewalks in east Lawrence.

KU_Dude 9 years ago

Welcome back Cool....I mean Sven....I mean welcome to the board Spiderman.

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