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 The inside is dumpy and out of date.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 Most people who get off the train now only see the tracks and the outdated depot.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: