Fate of Old Bay Line Train Depot on the Line

By  | 

The clock is ticking for the city to come up with money to buy the old Bay Line train depot.

The surrounding land was sold last fall, with the city getting a one-year option on the historic structure, but the estimated cost of restoring the depot is as high as $1.5 million.

So far the city has turned down the offer. Members of the group "Citizens for Better Government" are trying once again to spare the depot, including a nine-year-old member.

"I heard they were gonna tear the depot down and build a condo there, so I decided to save it."

The group argues the city, the North Downtown Community Redevelopment Agency, and the Kingston Group are trying to execute an illegal contract for the sale of the property.

Members claim the DIB didn't accept the highest bid, and the Kingston bid did not require the depot restoration. Group members say they feel the city is throwing away a valuable asset that many citizens have a special interest in.

"It started when I was little; I like to watch the train go down the road. Whenever I came downtown I used to get my dad to stop by the depot and let me get out and look at the train track."

The citizens group's attorney, Douglas Wyckoff, says his clients want to make sure their voices are heard.

"It's a big issue of the public being able to participate in a meaningful way in the decision of the DIB and the city and my clients were deprived of these rights."

But the city say the citizens’ group still lack legal standing.

"It's like them coming and saying they had a right to paint your house, and you can't knock it down. That's the difference [it] makes on whether you have a right to enforce your wishes on someone else's property."

So for the second time, Judge Hess will hold the train depot's fate in his hands. Judge Hess says he'll review the motion for a week.

Meanwhile, the owner of the 11-acre property, George Kingston, is dealing with environmental issues. His attorney says it doesn't appear it will be economically feasible to restore the depot, and at this point no one else is stepping forward.