To the editor:
I read with dismay the editorial “Depot decision” in the Feb. 9 issue of the Journal-World. Many communities throughout the country have successfully acquired, restored and reused former railroad properties with the assistance of grant funds for the benefit of their communities. These grants usually require a relatively small amount of local matching funds and represent a minimal amount of risk for local taxpayers.
The suggestion in the editorial that the city of Lawrence would be making a “$600,000 gamble” is not an accurate portrayal of the situation at hand. The fact that the depot is still being used as a train station gives the city an excellent chance to qualify for and receive federal transportation enhancement grant funds administered through the Kansas Department of Transportation for the restoration effort.
A restored depot would not just benefit a few of the “depot’s fans” as the editorial suggests. A properly restored depot could be developed as a transportation hub for the city where rail, bus, taxi, bicycle and pedestrian traffic could all cross paths to improve mobility for all Lawrence citizens. At the same time, we would be improving our image via this gateway to our community and preserving an important part of our town’s transportation and architectural history.
The acquisition of the depot should move ahead as a needed investment in the present and future transportation needs of Lawrence. Characterizing these efforts as an unwarranted gamble shows a lack of vision and understanding of the potential that a restored depot has for improving the livability and mobility of our city.