Fostoria wins grant for train park


NorthWest Ohio Trainz2010
Fostoria wins grant for train park


Staff Writer

FOSTORIA — Ellen Gatrell was the happiest person in Fostoria on Thursday afternoon. Her dream came true.

"It's absolutely wonderful," the secretary/treasurer of the Fostoria Rail Preservation Society (FRPS) said after Fostoria learned that it will receive an $815,700 grant to begin development of a visitors train park near the downtown. "It's exciting."

"We've been tooting the horn to people," Gatrell said about the effort to promote the city's train history.

About 150 trains pass through city daily on three different rail lines. Where those lines come together is known locally as the "Iron Triangle," and the park will be located within that area.

The grant funds will be used to construct a train viewing platform, a parking lot, a grassy area and eventually some restrooms at the more than five-acre site, a former junkyard.

Entrance to the park will be along Columbus Avenue.

Future plans include two pavilions, a small kiosk and a mulch-covered walking trail.

FRPS also has a former New York Central Railroad depot it wants to move to the site. A building remains on the property which also will have to be removed as part of the improvements.

A railroad museum, a hotel and a restaurant are also on the drawing board, but that would require acquiring additional land in the area and additional money.

The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) announced Thursday that 13 projects will receive federal funds through the ODOT Transportation Enhancement Program, which provides funds to improve cultural, historical, aesthetic and environmental aspects of transportation infrastructure. The funds will be available in the 2010-11 federal budget cycle.

The city will have to provide 20 percent matching funds for the grant, or $163,152.

Generally, the federal funds are used for such projects as bike paths, pedestrian trails and streetscape (downtown infrastructure) improvements. The uniqueness of the Fostoria project probably helped to secure the funds, Gatrell said.

When Rick Perse, coordinator of the program at ODOT, visited the city in May to look over the former junkyard property on Columbus Avenue, he said the city's grant application, prepared by Lydia Mahalik, previously with the Hancock Regional Planning Commission, was the first such proposal received by ODOT District 2.

"It might take some broad-based thinking when we review this," he said at the time.

Apparently the reviewers liked what they saw, and now the city is in line to begin work on what will become "one of the anchors for downtown development," Gatrell said.

The timing of the announcement couldn't have been better, she added. FRPS has its annual rail festival scheduled for Sept. 22 in the downtown area. Prior to the festival, there will be portable toilets, picnic tables and temporary lighting installed at the future park site, she said, so visitors can get a first-hand look at the area.

"Now maybe people in town will start believing in what we're doing," Gatrell said about the efforts of FRPS.

"There's potential for long-term prosperity for the city," Mayor John Davoli said Thursday about the grant announcement, as the new park will improve the southern edge of the downtown area.

Also, tourists who come to the city to view trains will likely spend money while in Fostoria, the mayor noted.

"I see it as a true economic lift for the city," he added.

Funds will be allocated in the city's next two annual budgets to cover the matching funds, he said. The city may be able to use site preparation and development, already completed at the location, as part of the match.
this stupid thing came in handy! wow a surpize now i have to use it as a sochel studys report*rolleyes*