Hamilton City Council has decided how to move the historic 19th-century train station built by the Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton Railroad, but council members Carla Fiehrer and Susan Vaughn again expressed concerns that the station’s relocation and partial restoration may be more costly than it is worth.
Under a plan by the winning contractor, Wolfe House & Building Movers of Indiana LLC for $656,000 will lift up the station’s two buildings from 3 or 4 feet above the ground and hoist the upper areas of the buildings while they are moved to city property on Maple Avenue near Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, according to the Journal-News.
After the station’s buildings are moved, brick masons who have not yet been contracted will fill in the entire lower 3-4 feet of bricks with other bricks — perhaps original ones, or maybe new bricks — to complete the structures. City officials hope that with those changes the station still can qualify for historic tax credits that can be used toward a renovation.
Fiehrer unsuccessfully urged her colleagues to place a cap on how much the city would spend, hoping to keep the spending below $2 million, including the move, a new foundation, repairs to the roof and the outside, as well as bringing the interior to a place where it has a “white-box” interior that a restaurant, bar or some other tenant will find ready to occupy, after adding their own interior finishes.
Mayor Pat Moeller said he was confident the cost would remain below $2 million, perhaps if partners join the city and donate money or labor, or help in other ways.
Fiehrer, who has said she feared the buildings could become a “money pit,” told her colleagues: “I want it to succeed. I just don’t have a good feeling, but I hope I’m wrong.”
Vaughn was disappointed the city had to rush to save the station: “It’s been 5-10 years ago, groups have said, ‘Let’s save it; let’s save it,’ and it got down to, I mean, hours, weeks, months and we have to save it now,” she said. “And I wish all of those groups who are certainly encouraging us to save this building had put their energy in it much sooner.”
“It’s the urgency and the unknown for me, and spending the money,” Vaughn added. “That’s where I have really struggled with this.”
Council voted 4-2 for the Wolfe House contract, with Fiehrer and Vaughn opposed.
In another matter, the council also voted 6-0 to appoint former council member Kathleen Klink to fill the final months of Robert Brown’s term but said they weren’t positive she would take it.
Klink told the Journal-News she “definitely” will. Brown recently retired, saying he wanted to spend more time with his family.
“I served with Bob (Brown) for 10 years and so appreciated his insights, knowledge and sense of humor,” she said after the meeting, adding she “will do my best to serve the remaining months of his term.”
Klink in 2019 announced she would not seek re-election to council so she could pursue other opportunities, including continuing to build the city’s 17 neighborhoods, as part of the 17Strong effort she helped found.
Last year, Klink was named Hamilton’s citizen of the year.