Archive for Tuesday, February 5, 2013

City, partners seeking grant for historic depot upgrades

The Baldwin City Council is seeking a grant to help spruce up the historic Santa Fe Depot.

The Baldwin City Council is seeking a grant to help spruce up the historic Santa Fe Depot.

February 5, 2013

The Baldwin City Council agreed Monday to move forward with a Kansas Department of Transportation grant application to make improvements to the city-owned historic Santa Fe Depot.

The city is attempting to secure $290,000 from the KDOT Transportation Enhancement grant program to help pay for work at the depot and its grounds. The grant requires a 20 percent local match, or $58,000, and the city is responsible for the project’s $25,000 design costs.

The council approved the project unanimously with members agreeing improvements to the depot and grounds fit with the council’s goal of increasing tourism in the community.

The grant and project first came before the council last month when it authorized submitting the grant application to the Lawrence-Douglas County Metropolitan Planning Organization, which made a recommendation on the city’s request to KDOT, a needed step in the process.

At that time, the council also authorized Mayor Ken Wagner and City Administrator Chris Lowe to talk with other parties with an interest in the depot about helping with the local match. Those parties include the Santa Fe Trails Historical Society, which leases the depot from the city, Midland Railway and the Kansas Belle Dinner Train.

Lowe told the council Monday the talks went well.

“Everybody came to the table with a very cooperative attitude,” Lowe said. “It was an easy discussion to have because everybody came to the table willing to pay their fair share.”

Roger Boyd, president of the Santa Fe Trail Historical Society, made a commitment of $15,000, which has since won the unanimous approval of the association’s board, and Midland Railway President Mike Fox committed the railroad for $20,600, contingent on approval of its board. In addition, the Kansas Belle Diner Train will provide $1,200 with the possibility of another $1,300 in 2014.

The project’s improvements include:

• $135,000 of improvements and maintenance to the depot, including an ADA restroom.

• $78,000 for new brick pavers and lighting for the depot’s platform.

• $71,000 for a shade shelter, benches and landscaping to the park east of the depot. The baseball backstop and old playground equipment would be removed.

• $6,000 for a paved ADA parking stall.

The grant application is not a sure thing. There is less than $10 million available, and 105 entities expressed initial interest in submitting grant applications.

To improve the Baldwin City application’s chances, the council Monday approved a $25,000 contract with BG Consultants to do the project’s design.

“A piece in making the application stronger is to have the (design) contract in place, so KDOT knows if you get the grant you’re going to go ahead with it,” BG engineer David Hamby told the council. “If you don’t have a contract, it’s a mark against the application.”

Should the grant be approved, the city and its partners would have to pay for the design in 2013. Construction, and its costs, would be in 2014.

Wagner said a successful grant application would not do all that was necessary to spruce up the area. He has already talked to Fox about Midland Railway’s responsibilities and would approach other business owners in the area.

Wagner said he would apply a lesson learned when two years ago the city offended business owners in the area with letters asking that they spruce up.

“We’re going to be doing it the old-fashioned way: sit across the table eyeball to eyeball and not send letters,” Wagner said. “It doesn’t make any sense to spend thousands of dollars and 50 feet way there is clutter.”

The general spruce-up of the area needed to include relocation of the recycling bins in the depot’s parking lot, Wagner said. Some options have already been suggested, he said.


greyghost 5 years, 3 months ago

I like how the for-profit entity is putting up the least amount--but, of course, being very cooperative.


1776attorney 5 years, 3 months ago

Elvyn, while your articles are appreciated, the city council dealt with other issues at their meeting that are equally or more important to the voters and taxpayers.

An agenda was missing from the newspaper this week, and even when one is posted, there is no follow-up article to report on the meetings or issues discussed.

While the Depot is newsworthy and important, the newspaper is the sole source of public checks and balances for Baldwin City citizens.

We want reporting that includes all pertinent information concerning the city government and the school board.

Thank you.

And Ms. Greyghost. While I was not so in favor of the financial assistance to the Kansas Belle, I tend to feel now that the criticism of these guys is not what Baldwin is about. They incurred a huge cost to come here and assumed a great risk. As a start-up business essentially, I personally feel they are doing what they can under their business cycle. Given time, I think we all hope they succeed. Respectfully stated.


1776attorney 5 years, 3 months ago

And yes, Mr. Mayor, the surrounding areas of the train depot are embarrassing. They have been for 40 years. While the city's previous method of communicating with the owners may incur criticism, the facts are there for all to see.

I hope an incentive for the business owners to clean up will be the publics general acknowledgment that the area is junky and rundown.

Acknowledging the problem is foremost and a partnership or offer of assistance in helping clean up the area is a good plan of action.


greyghost 5 years, 3 months ago

See what you did there, Mr. Attorney?

Jones down-bumped this story because of your critical analysis of his/her reporting--or lack thereof.

As far as the for-profit business referenced in this story, I think it is just another instance of businesses profiting off the backs of the taxpayers in this state. I don't like the trend. I hope this fact is not overlooked within the pages of the grant proposal.

Whether, or not, you think my opinion is "not what Baldwin is about," is fairly meaningless to me.


Eljay Jones 5 years, 3 months ago

The story was not "down-bumped." The library expansion, which I think has more interest to the community as a whole, story simply went into one of the four slots available on the web page. When that happened, there was only one comment. And it's he.


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