Welcome Center, trolley station among the ideas for historic Storm Lake structure
The volunteers behind a proposal to save the Storm Lake railroad depot are building steam for another try.
While the effort has been frustratingly slow, the volunteers submitted a new written proposal to the Canadian National Railroad last week.
"Some of the proposals we have made in the past were not acceptable to the railroad, so we decided to resubmit," said Brad Strader, spokesperson for a volunteer committee working to obtain the depot for restoration into a community welcome center or other positive use. "It has been a long time, but the project isn't dead. We are negotiating."
The railroad insists that the depot be moved from its site if it agrees to make it available to the group, out of concerns for liability with the building now just feet from a live track.
The committee has recently been able to work with a young area professional who was an Architectural Restoration major in college - she has been able to make some headway in discussion with the railroad on the historical significance of the depot, which is listed on the national Registry of Historic Places.
The volunteers' first choice for a location would be the area behind the former Medicap building on Railroad Street, just a short distance from the original site. A few other locations are being evaluated as an alternative.
"Moving it off-site is a must, but we feel strongly that it would be best used as an attraction to add to the downtown Storm Lake area," Strader said.
Moving bids are running around $30,000.
Funding is uncertain at this point. Strader hopes that a historical preservation grant could be obtained from the State, although much of those funds are currently being channeled for flood reapairs in eastern Iowa. A matching funds campaign locally could complete the project.
"This is not a multi-million-dollar thing. If we get the agreement with the railroad, this is do-able," Strader said.
The committee would ideally like to see the depot located near railroad tracks, to maximize its historical significance.
While decisions have not been made on its ultimate use, they have discussed making it a community welcome center where people could stop for information and brochures on local attractions, as well as an exhibit of local railroad history and perhaps some space for community programs.
A trolley station based in the depot could give visitors rides to King's Pointe, the Nature Interpretive Center proposed for the Little Storm Lake area, and around the lake, Strader suggests.