Depot docs back on council agenda



FORT MADISON – After being pulled from the City Council agenda two weeks ago, final agreements between the City of Fort Madison and Amtrak regarding the relocation of the rail depot to Riverview Park, could be voted on Tuesday.

Three separate agreements are on the agenda for the City Council’s regular meeting Tuesday night beginning at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall.

Included in the agreements is a platform sublease agreement with Amtrak. This agreement provides for the city constructing the platform and then giving ownership to Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad. Amtrak would then lease the platform from BNSF and then sublease it to the city to give the city responsibility for any maintenance and repair. Under the agreement the city would also be responsible for all utilities and insurance coverage.

Amtrak is also contributing $150,000 to the construction of the platform.

The second agreement is between the city and Amtrak where the city agrees to construct depot improvements, which have already been done, and construct a platform as well as installing Amtrak approved signage and a wheelchair enclosure.

The third agreement provides for the city leasing Amtrak 813 square feet of exclusive space in the station for operations including a “common area” to be used by passengers. It would be a 20-year lease with two 10-year extensions available. Rent on the space will be $400 monthly from Amtrak.

“If all three of the agreements are approved, the City will be responsible to construct the passenger platform, which will involved some city funds as outlined in the budget,” City Manager David Varley wrote in an agenda memo to council members.

“Amtrak will pay the city $400 per month in rent, but the city must take care of snow removal, repairs, etc for the platform, and the common areas outside the building. This will be an addition to the City’s annual operating budget and an expense that we currently do not have.”

In February, with city officials ready to pull out of the relocation due to insufficient funding available in the city’s budget, the Iowa Department of Transportation came up with potential additional funds to cover the city’s projected shortfall.

DOT officials said precedent is there for an additional $400,000 to be allocated from the DOT’s Passenger Rail Service Revolving Fund.

If approved Tuesday, the platform construction, which has to go through the DOT, could be put into the state’s bid letting process to get the project started.

In other action, the council:

• will have a 2nd reading of an ordinance amendment Title 3 of the city code defining “Rental Housing Unit” and the processes of nuisance abatement.

• will have a 2nd reading of an ordinance amending plumbing fees.

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