Thursday, December 27, 2007

To move or not to move? That is the question regarding Casa Grande's historic train depot

[Source: Harold Kitching, Casa Grande Newspaper] -- The historic train depot in downtown Casa Grande may need to be moved in order to be restored and opened as a museum. But if moved, it likely will lose its designation on the National Register of Historic Places. While the future of the old train depot in downtown Casa Grande remains shunted to a siding, the question arises over what the city would do with it if it got it. It's something that's been brought up at City Council meetings for years, always to fall aside as discussions with first Southern Pacific and now Union Pacific Railroad went nowhere. The city has hoped for the station to be handed over as a gift, something once proposed by the railroad but with the catch that the city would have to agree to close some crossings, including the one on Sacaton Street. The city, to put it politely, declined. With the double-tracking of the UP lines through the area, the railroad now needs some cooperation from the city when it eventually appears before the Arizona Corporation Commission to spell out its plans and what it would or would not do for cities along the tracks, leading Casa Grande to keep the depot issue on the table.

"We've been working on it for a long time, and this is our best opportunity to get that building," Public Works Director Kevin Louis told the Central City Redevelopment District Subcommittee during last week's meeting. That leads to the question of what the city would do with the depot, listed on Arizona's most endangered list. With the double-tracking, the building would probably have to be moved, although that might mean taking it off the National Register of Historic Places, a listing that if kept might make getting grants and other renovation and preservation money easier. Richard Wilkie, the city's senior management analyst, told the subcommittee that he had a lengthy phone conversation with a person at the State Historic Preservation Office, coming away with the feeling that if moved the depot would be taken off the register. "I even brought up the reason we're looking into this is the double-tracking," he said. "They said part of the response or the plan of action would have to include a section that explains if it's not moved, what impact the double-tracking will have on the depot. But as she explained, everybody's reason for moving (a structure in their area) is to preserve and trying to protect. It's not something that's unique; we're not in a unique situation here.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Steven King, Casa Grande Newspaper.]