Board leaves train station plans in limbo

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Brookhaven aldermen are pondering their next move followingarchitect Michael Barranco’s presentation Tuesday on a proposedmulti-modal transportation facility.

Options before the board include partial renovation of anexisting building that would require additional city funds,construction of a new, smaller building using money already on handor abandoning the project altogether. Board members discussed theproject at length Tuesday night without reaching anyconclusion.

“I think we’ve got to give some more thought to it before we canmake a final decision,” said Mayor Bob Massengill.

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Barranco presented estimates on the two construction-relatedoptions during Tuesday’s meeting.

The first option would involve an exterior restoration of theold power plant building, constructed in 1890, on North RailroadAvenue and a partial interior renovation of one area on the firstfloor. The plan would provide 2,800 square feet of operations spaceat an estimated cost of $1.27 million.

“We’re not that far off, but we’re far enough off to be spendingmoney, which we don’t want to do,” Barranco said about costs versusfunds available to do the work.

The second option would be to tear down the power plant buildingand construct a new facility. That option, which would provide2,200 square feet of space, was estimated at $970,400.

In three separate earmarks, the city has been allocated a totalof $3.9 million in federal funds for the facility. However, thatmoney cannot be accessed until the city provides a 20 percentmatch, which would total $986,918.

With the $206,000 value of the land and about $50,000 spent sofar in engineering fees, the city has $1.23 million to apply towarda building. City officials have said they do not want to spend anyadditional money on the project.

“My understanding is we’ve satisfied the local share for thefirst earmark,” Barranco said.

Barranco said the second option involves a building that is notroom-intensive, which would leave some money to enhance thebuilding’s appearance. The old smokestack is expected to remain inplace under either option.

Alderman at large Les Bumgarner questioned how much it will costto furnish and operate the building. Barranco did not know thosecosts but said some contingency funds could be available topurchase furniture.

When asked directly by Ward Five Alderman Tom Smith, Barrancosaid neither train or bus services had agreed to use the newfacility. Massengill said the plan would be to use the facility asthe train depot but he questioned whether a commercial bus lineservice would relocate there.

Ward One and Ward Two Aldermen Dorsey Cameron and Terry Batessaid the board had been misled about plans for the project.Cameron, who pointed out the city engineer’s absence last night,said there were some misunderstandings about building expectationswhen the board approved going forward with the facility.

“We’ve made a few mistakes,” Bates said. “We don’t want to dothat anymore … We need to be led better into this situation.”

Massengill said the project had been on-again, off-again forsome time.

“Sooner or later, we’re going to have to make a decision,” themayor said.

Ward Four Alderwoman Shirley Estes said the city is stilllooking at a building for which it has no purpose.

“It just seems so vague about what’s happening with the buildingexcept for the train stopping there,” said Estes, who suggestedusing the facility as a senior citizen center.

With the building’s size, officials doubted that would bepossible.

Massengill urged the board to consider the direction it wants totake with the proposal and be ready to make a decision by March 1.In the interim, Barranco said he would develop a drawing of the newbuilding second option to give aldermen an idea about what could beconstructed.