Social media chatter on proposed relocation of depot

Editor’s Note: The following is a partial list of responses that have been posted to Facebook in response to a Pen City Current editorial on an upcoming vote by the Fort Madison City Council to possibly move the current Amtrak Depot back to its original location in downtown Fort Madison. Also included is a post from City Councilman Brian Wright who asked his Facebook community for comments on the proposal.

Dave Bohnenkamp: I am in favor of bringing the Amtrak depot to the downtown location. However, the threat of Amtrak pulling its stop from Ft. Madison is likely an empty one. This is the stop where they change engineers and is the midway point between Chicago and KC on this line. I doubt that they want to change that.

Cheri Coin: What about those who work for the railroad and ride Amtrak? Would it still be convenient for them to get off downtown and then go back to the west end to conduct business? And is there ample parking for riders?

Joe Diaz:  There’s quite a bit of parking by where the Emerald Lady used to dock, and a skywalk over the tracks, if there is not enough by the historic Depot. The depot we have now is nowhere near anything worthwhile, and looks like crap. The inside is dumpy and out of date. Rusty was supportive of tax breaks for a new hotel, but doesn’t want to do this. The city council talks about wanting to bring tourism and business to FM….but doing something like this, that would actually bring travelers closer to the downtown area isn’t worth investing in? Most people who get off the train now only see the tracks and the outdated depot. I hear complaints about the Fort not bringing in money, so why not move the depot closer so at least those people can see it? Is there a bus stop for trailways and greyhound somewhere in town? Could they move that to a spot close to downtown? Put some better signage up pointing to the shopping there? People don’t shop or visit what they don’t know about.

Everett Mungan:  How did the city end up with the old Depot? Is the city finished with paying anymore to make the Depot acceptable to Amtrak and Dot?

Mick Loebach: I’m not sure if this is a good use of taxpayer money. Don’t we have an Amtrak station already? With the possibility of losing Amtrak altogether if our POTUS has his way, it should be postponed until you find out for sure that Amtrak will continue.

Jason Huppert: i do not comment much, but i have to ask. We just spent a half million on an intersection. Getting ready to spend 26 mil on a new 3 lane highway (yes 3 lane), that not a sole seems to mind (higher taxes) remind you. I was against spending the money on the depot at the time, but we spent the money, now is the time to finish it. If it was my gamble i would stick my 1/2 million on the depot at this point rather than an intersection to help local business.

Jim Nagel: If I was a visitor coming to Fort Madison by train, I wouldn’t want to do business if when I got off the train the first thing that I saw and smelled was a,sewage plant. Move the Depot to its original location!

Penny Dowell Monroe: Back in the day, their was a restaurant my sister worked in, the old depot. I remember going as a kid. Downtown could benefit. They could put a couple ships in the old casino building as well.

Kris Russell: I think if the truth be told Amtrak will likely have the same agreement with the City they currently have. Some of the councilmen are trying to start dissension to divert attention.

Brian Wright: I would like some feedback from those in Fort Madison in regards to the old depot in downtown being rented for Amtrak to stop there for passengers. Cost is approximately $50,000 annually for the city to maintain and the city is paid $400 monthly by Amtrak. The city already spent approximately $350,000 to renovate and will had spent another approximate $350,000 to build and extend the platform for passengers. Grants have provided in the millions give or take. Amtrak said they would do a 20 year lease, but can opt out at anytime from said lease. Cost to city over that 20 years, $1 million to maintain. Would you rather see that money spent on city projects benefiting the whole community such as, street improvements, infrastructure, parks improvements, other improvements? Let me know, I have a vote to cast soon and always vote for what is best for the city as a whole. Thank you, Councilman Wright.

The following are some of the comments on Councilman Wright’s Facebook post:

Michael Chapman: I answer would be no! First off Amtrak’s a business are we going to start providing buildings at $400 rent to every person that wants to start a business Plus cover $45,000 worth of others I want to start a bowling alley will the city pay me $45,000 a year to start a bowling alley or maybe a roller skating rink
Nick Kruse: I’d rather see the money allot of other places
Cheston Monroe:That’s so ridiculously crazy ! Where do they come up with these figures , what’s it lined in gold. I mean c’mon now why does it cost that much , INSANE. If Fort Madison had that much money to throw around , the money needs to be thrown elsewhere.
Sherri Freed Yasenchok:The Amtrak drop off is a great idea and might bring new people here but what about some new buildings like a fire station or new city hall. Just food for thought.
Kathy McCracken:Please support the new depot, Brian. So much time and money has already been spent to bring this project to fruition. I think it would be a wonderful asset to our riverfront area. Some quality-of-life projects are worth the cost, and this is one of them.
Matt Mohrfeld:I love the idea. Trains are a big part of who Fort Madison is. If you’re not growing you’re dying.
Scott Meller:We have a working depot at this time. I like the fact that the building was renovated and that it can be used in the future, but little to no money will be generated with the use of the new depot. Im not saying it needs to be profitable but it should be closer to self sustaining. With the proposed #’s I just don’t think it makes a lot of sense at this time.
Shawn Fuget:Going to be interesting to see how many businesses is willing to stay open after 5 p.m. if this deal happens, and you probably should plan on it 7 days a week to.
Derrick Higdon:Fix the streets, tear down the dilapidated houses. Are town looks terrible to anyone who comes here.
Denise Fraise:We have traveled with Amtrak. I would think travelers would enjoy the riverfront view when they stop. It is just another way to enhance Fort Madison’s tourism. Thank you Brian for asking your constituents
Shaun Allen:As an occasional train rider, I would be all for it. But with the cost and the ability to opt out its not worth it at this time. If some improvements can be made gradually it would be worth revisiting in a couple years.
Tom Schulz:I have heard that they’re going to have to move out of their current location because the owner, Burlington Northern wants that building. I think it’s somewhat important to keep Amtrak here and if that’s true should be part of the decision process
Jared Cullen:Rework the numbers. It feels as if the city is being taken advantage of. If they can opt out at anytime, we shouldn’t be left to foot the bill. Maybe take a percentage of $ based on passengers getting on and off the train to help.
John Risinger:Finish it
Bobby Holtkamp:Financially, I think it’s a bit much. For the beautification and the idea of visitors looking at our town, I love it. Even if they don’t get out of the train, our riverfront is one of the best around and people would enjoy our stop. For that, my vote would be yes. (Side note, negotiations on the amount would be appreciated)
James G. Baier:Cut the best deal we can and secure AmTrak for the future. I vote yes.
Julie Vorhies:?? We’ll hear those trains a coming, they’re rollin’ round the bend, on into River City, this mission must not end.? ?
We restored the Amtrak Depot, to government amends ??
Let’s rally for completion, bringin’ those passengers in, ? on into 10th Street Station (Santa Fe Depot) for a historic end! ?
Drake Ireland:The voters of fort madison and those elected need to take a common sense approach to this. Investing goes one of two ways you either go all in and make something work in your favor or you sit back and lose and watch the growth of a town you know and love crumble. To the councilmen and the citizens of FM you need to make yourself heard. Many of the councilmen know how money works and some of them are very smart about it and know that this would be huge for fort madison and it’s appeal to those visiting and those who live in FM. Vote yes, vote for Fort Madison. It’s a step in the right direction for Fort Madison and it’s citizens
Charles H. Ireland:You have to spend money to make money. It would be a shame if the depot did not go through, and how is it really an option to not move forward? The people of fort Madison deserve it based on the commitment that has already been made. It should be an overwhelming vote for yes, and everyone that has anything to do with leading Fort Madison should make it a personal challenge to try and build it up to sustain itself. Then, we can go the other way with it and make money. Risk vs. reward. Vote smart Brian
Libby Burdette:Is grant money actively being sought or has it already been? Is there an estimate on the amount of grant money that will offset the 350,000? I personally hope that the Depot does get moved to downtown. To me the issue of cost/maintenance should have been discussed and a plan should have been put into place before the money was put into the renovation. It’s like saying I’m going to renovate a building downtown to apartments and then stopping halfway through because you realized the money could be spent somewhere else. It’s really not fair to the residents that have been promised this for years now.
Readers can comment on Pen City Current’s article here and the Facebook post here.





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