Archive for Wednesday, August 18, 2010

City’s request for grant to upgrade train depot rejected

A federal grant was denied to help pay for the restoration of the depot.

August 18, 2010


Plans for the city to assume ownership and restore the Santa Fe Depot in east Lawrence have been dealt a blow.

Assistant City Manager Diane Stoddard confirmed the city has been told that its application for a $583,000 federal grant wasn’t selected for funding.

“We can reapply in the future, but it will be awful hard to wait,” said Carrie Maynard-Moody, a leader of a citizen’s group that is working to restore the depot at Seventh and New Jersey streets. “But I worry about going through two more years without a new roof, and the heating system is really just limping along.”

City commissioners soon will have to decide whether to keep the project alive. Commissioners are expected to be briefed on their options at Tuesday’s meeting.

When commissioners applied for the grant in December, they were told the depot —which serves as Lawrence’s Amtrak station — needed $600,000 worth of critical repairs. Those included a new roof, a new heating system and several upgrades to meet the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The building is owned by the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Corp. The railroad has an interest in transferring ownership of the station to the city, but commissioners previously have said they are uncertain whether the city should accept ownership of the depot without having a funding source for making many of the necessary repairs.

Commissioners particularly expressed concern about not having funding to do necessary ADA work, since it would be unlikely that a government-owned building would be able to receive an exemption from ADA compliance issues.

Maynard-Moody, though, said her group will urge commissioners to move ahead with taking over ownership, especially since Amtrak ridership at the station has been increasing. Leaders with the Kansas Department of Transportation, which administered the federal grant, said Lawrence’s application was hurt by the fact the city does not already own the building.

But Maynard-Moody said she doesn’t think it is realistic to start a public fundraising drive to garner the needed $600,000. The next round of transportation enhancement grant money likely won’t be available until 2013.

Where that leaves current plans is a bit uncertain.

“It is a place the city could be proud of,” said Maynard-Moody, who has suggested the city look at making the depot the main station for the city’s public transit system. “I think everybody wants this to happen, but we do understand it is a matter of finding a way to do it without hurting the taxpayers.”

Commissioners meet at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, Sixth and Massachusetts street.


Ronda Miller 7 years, 10 months ago

It'd be nice if those people who have expertise in doing the repairs could donate services to bring costs down. What a shame about the grant, but expected with these tough economic times. How many bake sales? :)

Maybe groups such as boy scouts, girl scouts, etc. can join forces. Certainly a worthwhile project.

pizzapete 7 years, 10 months ago

Agreed, a private individual could get this done for half the price the city or federal gov. would spend. Why care about cost if someone else is paying the bills?

Fred Whitehead Jr. 7 years, 10 months ago

Kinda funny, you know. The city wants to get Federal money to fix up someone else's railroad station, that is used by another (government) entity (Amtrak). Yet everyone is hollering about "government spending". Does anyone see anything strange here?

Sure, it would be nice to get the place fixed up, and this responsibility should be on those whoe have primary use and ownership. BNSF us not going to do this, they are in the business of transporting freight, not passengers. Amtrak does not seem to want to do anything about this, they are busy staving off Republicans who would wish to completely erase national passenger train service completly from the whole country. Passenger trains are very successful in Europe, and you know what that means, we don't want no stinking European stuff in THIS country!! We love our cars too much.

BlackVelvet 7 years, 10 months ago

How about the damned school board buying and fixing up the building. They've purchased property in the past that they really did not need, and of course, passed the cost on to all of us.

geoismeo 7 years, 10 months ago

Why is it everytime oneeye_wilbur makes a comment, the very next comment is not_hoylrod slamming him.? Do you just sit at the keyboard waiting? Get a life.

flyin_squirrel 7 years, 10 months ago

I agree. not_hoylrod must have nothing to do. But you can always do as I do, and just skip over his posts, they are usually worthless information anyway.

kansasredlegs 7 years, 10 months ago

The County, i.e., Thellman and Gaughan, just approved $350K for "Heritage Funds" .... Seems to me you're over half way there!!!

"Maynard-Moody said she doesn’t think it is realistic to start a public fundraising drive to garner the needed $600,000"

---- Oh, but you have Ms. Maynard-Moody, it's seeking the federal slop at the pig trough in the first place. Feds said no, so if you can't raise the money for your worthwhile crusade, then it's not worth placing on the backs of taxpayers. Perhaps Mr. Corliss could suggest reduced subsidies / funding for the M-T

bangaranggerg 7 years, 10 months ago

The passenger train station is in trouble and they don't do anything about it? What's next? Are we going to let our telegraph stations languish? How then would I get word to "Californie" about Pa's broken leg?

Maddy Griffin 7 years, 10 months ago

Too bad, especially when business is starting to pick up. I like Rhonda's idea about volunteering to help out with it. I'd be glad to volunteer for that. I've ridden trains all my life and hope to take the grands on a short train trip soon.

notajayhawk 7 years, 10 months ago

"business is starting to pick up"???

Perhaps gram has some numbers he'd like to share with us showing the increased passenger usage of the Lawrence depot?

fyrfighter 7 years, 10 months ago

The city does not need to take ownership of the building. But, on the other hand, they did not need to take ownership of the old coop land either. Maynard-Moody needs to get busy and start getting private funding for her pet project. If not, forget about it and move on.

PaulGrahovac 7 years, 10 months ago

FYI, here an e-mail I just now sent to Diane Stoddard, Assistant City Manager and Carrie Maynard-Moody of the Sierra Club.

Train Depot

Diane Stoddard Assistant City Manager

Carrie Maynard-Moody Sierra Club

I work for Lawrence company PROSOCO, Inc. Our products are used on historic restoration projects like the U. S. Capitol, Grand Central Station, Union Station, Allen Field House, and the Douglas County Courthouse.

We all love historic buildings, and my heart sank when I read today's Journal World article.

An outside-the-box idea came to mind. I volunteered 150 Saturdays building houses with Habitat for Humanity. I now have a volunteer organization helping inner-city urban farmers in Kansas City, Kansas.

I have seen the amazing things a group of volunteers can accomplish.

It occurred to me a major volunteer effort of the unskilled, semi-skilled, and the contractor community could accomplish most if not all of the labor requirements on this project -- thus significantly reducing its cost.

I would be pleased to help organize such an effort. My resume is attached for background.


Paul Grahovac, LEED AP

General Counsel

Director of New Business Development

Product Manager

R-GUARD Air & Water-Resistive Barrier


(785) 830-7355

stephenj 7 years, 10 months ago

Government spending in this case would be STIMULATING the Lawrence economy. Get a brain! morans (sic)

Danimal 7 years, 10 months ago

I'm going to tell a quick story from my life about restoring a truly historic building. I grew up in McPherson Kansas, where we had a crumbling opera house downtown. This opera house was built in 1888 and was the first all electric building west of the Mississippi. Apparently, when it opened in 1889 and they turned the lights on at night you could see the glow from 20 miles away. Anyway, by the late 1980's the ol' Opera House was in pretty bad shape and there was a strong movement afoot to tear it down. Several members of the community (who for the next few years would be reviled for trying to save the Grand Old Lady of Main Street) got together, purchased the building and started doing the necessary work to save her. Long story short, I got involved because some of those people were family friends and after about 20 years and raising a few million dollars, often $5 or $10 at a time, the Opera House has been completely restored and is again a fixture in the community, and an anchor on southern Main Street.

This train depot probably isn't worth saving. It represents some of the worst post-war American architecture that you can find, and nothing significant has happened there. What really lets you know it's not worth saving is that the people involved won't get off their duffs and raise the few hundred thousand dollars they need and are waiting for a government handout. We took a few government grants late in the project, but the heavy structural work had already been done at that point so the money went to interior finishing and restoring some of the murals in the building. If the people trying to get this thing restored aren't inventive and dedicated enough to come up with at least a quarter of a million dollars, it shouldn't be saved.

Velcrow 7 years, 10 months ago

I was going to ride a train to the east coast once. The ticket cost more than a plane and the trip would take longer than if a drove my car. I really see no point in riding rail unless the ride itself is your vacation. Now it would be nice to move the bus hub there and off of Mass.

mr_right_wing 7 years, 10 months ago

Don't you city bloodsuckers come sniffin' around my wallet!!!


Joe Ryan 7 years, 10 months ago

“I think everybody wants this to happen, but we do understand it is a matter of finding a way to do it without hurting the taxpayers.” Where does Ms. Maynard-Moody think the $600K grant money comes from? It is all tax money and a burden on taxpayers !

blindrabbit 7 years, 10 months ago

Need more train ridership, just one train a day each way. I've ridden the SW Chief to NM and Cal from Lawrence within the last year; great trips Trouble with the station: nothing historic, they tore down the original (great building) following the 51 flood and the 50's trend to bland modernism. Also, it's in a bad part of town for night usership (Westbound train at 2:00 A.M.) (not commenting on East Lawrence neighborhood), just the fact.

May need to attract The Love Train or The Soul Train.

Robert Rauktis 7 years, 10 months ago

If everything is an emergency, than nothing's an emergency. Hopefully these people don't make priority decisions for their homes like they do with public funds. When will these people realize the cake only has so many slices? And just what exactly is even historic or keepsake about this building? Sure everyone has their kid's art on the refrigerator, but even most parents realize that the sentimental value is trite.

Just move one of those bus shelters. But what we do need in this town is another football stadium!

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