DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) – The price tag on the effort to save Decatur’s old L&N Railroad Depot just keeps going up. The total cost of the project is now expected to top two and a half million dollars. Even some of the projects original supporters are asking if it’s worth it.
“I’d hate to see it go. I’ve stepped onto the old Hummingbird (passenger train) from that station myself as a little kid with my mother,” says Decatur Mayor Don Kyle.
At 112, it’s one of the oldest structures in Decatur and city officials have a chance to save it. But it’s a big project and it comes with a big price tag.
“It can be used but we’ve got to adapt to the environmental issues of the old, lead paint and new requirements regarding bathroom facilities and ADA access and things of that nature,” Mayor Kyle tells WHNT News 19. Right now, the project is expected to come in at about $2.5 million dollars.
Mayor Kyle says the city will have to borrow about half of that, the rest would be made up from grants and private donations. The depot would house a small museum and a few city offices, which the mayor says may enable them to give up the lease on the Cain Street City Hall Annex property, a move that would save about $65 thousand a year. But as the price to renovate the depot keeps going up, support for the project could be waning.
“If we didn’t have some serious-sized grants that could help alleviate the cost, I doubt we’d even be considering it.”
The Decatur City Council plans a work session Monday afternoon at 5 o’clock. Right after that meeting, they’ll have a special session to discuss the L&N Depot. If there are questions or comments from the public, that would be the time to bring them.
Meanwhile, if the council okay’s the project, work could begin this summer. We’ll be watching.
— Al Whitaker