Archive for Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Depot renovation may cost $1.3M

Preserving the Sante Fe Depot is getting more expensive. A new set of cost figures for repairs to the building are higher than the original figures.

December 8, 2009


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A plan for the city to preserve the old Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway depot in east Lawrence may be more expensive than city leaders once thought.

City commissioners at their meeting tonight are scheduled to receive a new architectural report that estimates there are $1.35 million worth of improvements that ought to be done to the 1950s-era structure at Seventh and New Jersey streets.

“The price is high, but we believe we can do some of this in phases,” Assistant City Manager Diane Stoddard said.

Commissioners will consider applying for a federal transportation grant to cover much of the cost of the first phase.

City commissioners in 2008 — when they first contemplated buying the building as a way to save the structure and upgrade the city’s depot service for Amtrak — were told by staff members that there likely were about $400,000 in repairs needed for Americans with Disabilities Act issues and another $100,000 in additional improvements.

This summer, though, city leaders thought the city’s cost on the project would go down substantially because Amtrak received $600,000 to address some ADA issues at the building.

But the latest report from Lawrence-based Hernly Associates estimates that even with the $600,000 in stimulus money, the project will need significant amounts of funding. City staff members, though, are noting that the latest report is more encompassing than previous estimates.

“Part of it is probably a difference in terms of just doing the things that we know are needed compared to doing some things to really put a new shine on the facility,” Stoddard said.

Of the $1.35 million worth of recommended improvements, the new report labels about $580,000 of the improvements as “critical.” That includes a new roof, a new geothermal heating system, new bathrooms that are handicapped-accessible, new sidewalks, and a host of smaller issues.

Stoddard said she is hopeful that some of the $600,000 in stimulus money awarded to Amtrak can be used for some of the costs the city currently has factored into the project. The bulk of the money is to be spent upgrading the platform where passengers board the train, but Stoddard said she hopes there is enough money left to do other ADA projects, such as the bathroom renovations. Amtrak officials haven’t yet said how much work they will be able to do with the $600,000.

Staff members are recommending that commissioners apply for $583,411 in federal transportation enhancement grant funding. That would allow the list of critical items to be addressed.

But the grant also could create a budget dilemma for the city. The federal grant requires at least a 20 percent local match, which would be about $120,000. That money has not been included in the city’s budget.

Mayor Rob Chestnut said he had been planning on spending about $80,000 in city funds on the project. He said he’s open to applying for the grant, but hopes that the city would be able to get the necessary work done for less than the $580,000 estimate. That would allow the city to reduce the amount of matching funds it must provide.

City staff members also are still working to finalize an agreement with Burlington Northern Santa Fe to have the building donated to the city in order for the renovations to occur. Chestnut said he now wants city staff members to consider making that donation contingent upon the city receiving grant dollars to make the improvements.

“I don’t want to open ourselves up to some sort of open-ended liability with this project,” Chestnut said.


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 3 months ago

If the city can get $1.2 million in improvements for 10 cents on the dollar, that's pretty good considering that train usage will almost surely increase dramatically over the next ten years, and that facility needs upgrading for that to happen.

Flap Doodle 8 years, 3 months ago

"John Kerry will almost surely be elected President in 2004."

Amy Heeter 8 years, 3 months ago

I would rather have the city spend a million on the depot than Loring Henderson's drunk hotel.

cowboy 8 years, 3 months ago

Jesus H. Christ why not build a 1850's vintage designed brick building that has some character and curb appeal. Surely for 1.3 mill you can accomplish that.

My home is about the same vintage as the depot and quite honestly i this post war modern whatever is not impressive at all. Bulldoze the thing.

you're going to spend a bunch of dollars and still have an ugly dog of a building.

cowboy 8 years, 3 months ago

At what point did geo thermal become part of the Spec ?

Richard Heckler 8 years, 3 months ago

Commuter trains could fit in if necessary. It's all a matter of scheduling. As a matter of fact spending $200,000,000 on commuter rails and commuter trains make far more dollars and sense that the any new highway. Consumers will receive far more mileage life out of rails than out of asphalt = fiscally responsible spending.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 8 years, 3 months ago

I cannot believe this is even happening. That building is nondescript. Has anyone noticed the condition of our roads? When the ice melts from this week's storm, we are going to have some nasty potholes out there. What an incredible waste of money.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 3 months ago

I think they just made the "wish list" a complete one, cowboy. I would expect that it could be scaled back somewhat, or done in phases over several years.

That said, while it's not my cup of tea architecturally, replacing it with any adequate facility would easily double the $1.3 million price tag.

50YearResident 8 years, 3 months ago

Let the Railroad fix their own building. The city has no business of becomming a landloard just to bail out Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway from their obligation to maintain this Depot. We all knew the renovation price tag was being whitewashed to gain support.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 3 months ago

BNSF doesn't need the passenger depot, because they don't run passenger trains. It's Amtrak and Lawrence that need a renovated passenger depot.

Boston_Corbett 8 years, 3 months ago

Marion (Marion Lynn) says…:"I told you folks quite a while back..."

yea, Marion. you also told us that H1N1 was going to cause societal collapse, that your Holocaust-denying buddy is quite the scholar, ... among other things.

Nostradamus you ain't.

Stuart Evans 8 years, 3 months ago

I thought the depot was that beautiful building next to the underpass on N. 2nd. So all this talk is about this little 1950's looking bus-stop thing? tear it down, burn it down, whatever.

Boston_Corbett 8 years, 3 months ago

Of course we knew Marion thinks he is always right. That is our point.

I guess those who have declared bankruptcy watch city budgets in places they don't live extra closely. It's a skill.

Randall Barnes 8 years, 3 months ago


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