Town considers offer to buy rail station

Sale could ease access to grants for renovations to historic building

September 20, 1999|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

The Hampstead Train Station Committee, a nonprofit corporation striving to renovate the decaying building as a museum and business center, is negotiating to buy the structure from the town to make it easier to obtain private and public grants.

Representatives from the committee's board of directors will soon negotiate with Hampstead Town Manager Ken Decker on the terms of the sale, subject to the Town Council's approval, said Councilman Wayne H. Thomas, who is leading the effort. The station project would aid town officials' plans to revitalize the downtown business district.

Because he is a councilman, Thomas said, he would not be involved in the negotiations.

"We know there are grants available to a nonprofit corporation that would not be available to the town," he said.

Formed two years ago, the committee has succeeded in collecting about $5,000 in donations for the project. About $35,000 is needed for interior and exterior repairs, and another $45,000 is needed to build a slate roof, Thomas said,

The committee also has obtained nonprofit status from the Internal Revenue Service, meaning past and future donations are tax deductible, Thomas said Friday.

The train station, at Gill Avenue and Main Street, was opened in 1913 and served as a freight depot until 1979, when CSX closed it. The town bought the building for $7,000 in 1997.

The one-story clapboard structure played an important role in Hampstead's development. For nearly 70 years, farmers took dairy and grain products to the station to be loaded on trains bound for Baltimore.

That significance is not lost on Hampstead officials, whose town seal and stationery feature a sketch of the depot.

Since beginning the renovation, volunteers have contributed about 2,500 hours of their time, Thomas said. Others have donated materials or promised to provide items of historical significance that are scattered throughout Hampstead.

One resident said he would make available to the museum an old telegraph key used at the train station, Thomas said.

The committee is pursuing a private grant from the Western Maryland Resource and Development Conservation Organization, Thomas said.

"We have requested $35,000 and are awaiting word on approval and for how much," he said.

That amount would be enough to complete the interior and exterior work and possibly the plumbing necessary for adding a restroom, he said.

"We would like to get the exterior finished before the winter," he said. A slate roof would have to be built later, he added.

The committee had to delay some exterior repairs because of the hot and humid summer, but it plans to resume the voluntary work sessions this month, Thomas said.

Tax-deductible donations to the train station restoration can be sent to: Hampstead Train Station Committee, P.O. Box 727, Hampstead 21074.

Pub Date: 9/20/99

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