Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Borough Council approves MOU to move old freight station

Last week, Elizabethtown Borough Council unanimously approved a memorandum of understanding with the Federal Transit Administration, the Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to move an old freight station.

The station, which was at the center of some acrimonious discussions with local historical society officials, will be moved from near the newly renovated Elizabethtown Train Station to 340 W. High St. (across from White Oak Mills), a few hundred yards away. That location was the site of a former warehouse that the borough bought and demolished because of its dilapidated condition.

As of today, the borough does not have an estimate on the cost of moving the station. We also do not know what the schedule is for moving the building. 

Speaking as one member of Borough Council, I will note that the members of the local historical society initially opposed moving the freight station. Although I firmly believe they could have approached the issue with more tact and grace, I -- and other members of Borough Council -- give them credit because the MOU that council approved says the Federal Transit Administration will pay for moving the station. Had we gone forward without that involvement and decided to move it, the chances were greater that we would have used local tax dollars. So kudos to the local residents concerned about preserving history.

The issue with the freight station arose during the renovations of the Elizabethtown Amtrak station. The plans call for additional parking to be constructed where the freight station stands now. The station, apparently constructed in the late 19th century, has been empty since the mid-1970s. Before tearing it down, the borough notified the Elizabethtown Historical Society as required under a borough ordinance.

The borough does not have a planned use for the freight station -- but we are open to any proposals or ideas for someone to turn it into a business or some use appropriate for that area of town.

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