Willard gets $50,000 to open park for train watchers

City hopes to raise its $80,000 share in time for the facility’s construction to start about a year from now.
MCT Regional News
Apr 15, 2014

Ohio’s freshly adopted 2015-16 capital budget includes $50,000 for a train-watchers’ park that city officials hope will kick-start an effort to raise money for the rest of the project’s estimated $130,000 cost.

“We feel pretty confident we’ll be able to raise the money,” city manager Brian Humphress said Monday, noting that Willard used a similar strategy for soccer fields it built recently.

The park would be modeled after a similar facility that opened last fall 40 miles to the west in Fostoria, though it would not be nearly as big or expensive.

Both Willard, in southern Huron County, and Fostoria, at the junction of Wood, Hancock, and Seneca counties, are astride CSX Transportation’s busy former Baltimore & Ohio main line between Chicago and the East Coast. Both communities have attracted railroad buffs to watch and photograph the train activity.

Willard does not have two major main lines intersecting the former B&O track the way Fostoria does, but it is home to a major train switching yard and a junction with a branch line operated by the Ashland Railway. It was called Chicago Junction before it adopted the name of Daniel Willard, a 19th-century B&O president.

In a letter to state Sen. Gayle Manning (R., North Ridgeville), who sponsored the project’s funding in the capital budget, Mr. Humphress estimated the park could draw 15,000 to 25,000 visitors annually. Its proposed location near Second and Motson streets would put them within a five-minute walk — or one-minute drive — of Willard’s downtown shops and restaurants, he wrote.

“This project is good for local jobs and good for the long term health of our region’s tourism industry,” Ms. Manning said in an emailed statement Monday.

While Mr. Humphress said that some of those train-watchers probably already visit Willard, having the park will provide a safer place for them to pursue their hobby. Some now linger on the State Rt. 99 overpass east of town “and they can’t really stay there,” he said, while others trespass on CSX property.

The park’s $130,000 budget is based on $50,000 for a raised wooden platform, $40,000 for a restroom, and $20,000 for fences, signs, and historical exhibits, plus a $20,000 endowment for major maintenance.

It includes no money for land acquisition, Mr. Humphress said, because CSX owns the roughly half-an-acre site, and the railroad has indicated a willingness to donate it to the city.

A CSX spokesman did not respond to a message seeking comment.

City officials expect park visitors to park on Second Street, which now dead-ends at the tracks, or other nearby streets, he said.

Land acquisition, site preparation, and construction of a driveway and parking lot were major elements of Fostoria’s train-watching park, built on an old pork-packing plant site. Opened in mid-November, its construction cost $1.1 million in mostly state funds.

Mr. Humphress said city officials hope to draft formal plans and raise Willard’s planned $80,000 share in time for the facility’s construction to start about a year from now.

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By David Patch - The Blade, Toledo, Ohio (MCT)

©2014 The Blade (Toledo, Ohio)

Visit The Blade (Toledo, Ohio) at www.toledoblade.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

Comments

ferball14

How much money does the rail road museum in Willard generate now? Sounds awesome to spend this much money on something this dumb. Spend money on the streets instead.

ferball14

How much money does the rail road museum in Willard generate now? Sounds awesome to spend this much money on something this dumb. Spend money on the streets instead.

arnmcrmn

I hope Willard officials plan on using ONLY donated money towards this idea. They cannot fix our roads but can "find" money to build a stupid train watching platform.

Another brilliant idea!!!!!!!!! Saving Willard, one train platform at a time. SMDH.

nikki6279

This money would have better been used to renovate or operate the old hospital they tore down... into a rehab facility/treatment facility for heroin addicts

arnmcrmn

That property wasn't the City of Willard's property to do anything with. To purchase it and then convert it into anything, it would have cost millions with all the new building codes. The only option was to demo it, which the hospital knew was going to happen, that is why it was built into their cost to build the new hospital.

They have a new rehab facility, its the old nursing home off of rte 99.

OneLocalVoice

If the State of Ohio has that kind of money to put into a stupid park to watch trains go by then they need to first cough up the money to fix our streets and roads. THIS IS A JOKE AND THE WILLARD CITY MANAGER SHOULD REJECT THE MONEY ON THE PRINCIPLE OF STUPIDITY ALONE when he knows what is needed is street repair.

hit the road jack

This is your fuel taxes at work and at their best I might add. This kind of retarded crap goes on all the time,almost as stupid as the sound barrier wall along the Interstate roads.

Scranton Tibbs

What a colossal waste of money and time. Building a platform so foamers can fap to trains. Choo choo! Ridiculous and embarrassing.

Dr. Information

40k for a freaking restroom? Is this one that has a gold plated stall? Willard has one really special city manager. Please keep him. What a waste of tax money all around. This country is going broke and we have money for a dumb train watching platform? How about building a heroin platform? Surely willard residents would get more enjoyment out of that.

rbenn

that's what the Reflector is for.

JudgeMeNot

It's Time, Once Again, to Get Aboard the Ho Train!

arnmcrmn

Many of the railroaders who I am friends with on FB also agree that its a dumb idea. One even mentioned the wasted money spent in Fostoria on a train platform and that he never sees anyone there.

Common sense is a thing of the past. Refuse the money on pure stupidity and set an example city leaders that just because its there, doesn't mean we have to take it. ITS WASTED TAX DOLLARS.

JakeMac25

This whole thing is a joke. Willard needs to refocus their attention on other problems with the railroad first. Like fixing the underpasses, cleaning up the trash, fixing the park that is pretty much on the tracks on 4th street in Willard (The Matt Sweet memorial park) and so on. How about maintaining the problems you have now instead of creating more for others to worry about in the future. What are the expected maintenance cost? What are the operating cost of the restrooms? Is there any revenue projected? Yeah don't worry about that stuff, just worry about the half of the money you need to raise. To be more like FoTroit, good call Brian. With all due respect Mr. Humphress, you my friend are a moron! Please go some place else and take CSXT with you.

justsayin01

Amen, couldn't have said it better myself sir!