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With details known, plans for train station look good

As city officials mull how to proceed with a proposed multimodaltransportation facility, more details about plans and potentialproject benefits are also taking shape.

Following years of nebulous concepts about what actually is tobe done, aldermen are now down to two designs for the project. Oneoption involves razing the old power plant building andconstructing a new facility, while the other option would renovatepart of the plant building for the train station.

Both current plans are far removed from the grandiose $4 millionto $5 million original idea that gave little information on how thecity would provide local matching dollars for a multi-milliondollar federal appropriation.

Questions like that and others prompted us to advocate applyingthe brakes to the train station plans. Recent developments,however, suggest it is time to change tracks and move forward withthe project.

Openness by city officials has shown that the value of the landand the buildings will serve as the match for the initial $1million allotment.

With no desire to spend additional city funds, officials do notplan to tap into the remaining federal dollars. While costs are notknown, city officials are more readily acknowledging that someoperational expenses will be incurred once the facility isbuilt.

With plans for retail space rental abandoned, the smallerproject takes the city out of the development business that wouldput it in competition with established businesses and other localentrepreneurs.

Officials should pursue efforts to make the facilitymultidimensional with bus and other transportation services wherepossible.

With 3,000 to 4,000 people boarding or getting off the train inBrookhaven each year, there is clearly a need for improved depotservices here. A small kiosk near the old train depot, now used forrecreation department offices and a military museum, is woefullyinadequate.

Another benefit of the new train facility is revitalization of arun-down part of the city. The new activity could spur privatedevelopment that would further improve the area.

With the train stopping 1,600 feet to the north at the newstation, motorists would likely see improved traffic flow becausedowntown rail crossings would not be blocked as often. Amtrak stopsfor passengers are brief, but they still represent a minorinconvenience to drivers.

While some cost precautions are still needed, more clearlydefined plans and benefits and openness on the part of city leadershave provided a better idea where the train station tracks areheaded. All aboard!