Big plans are being made for the train engine in Wilson Park.
During the April 4 City Commission meeting, City Manager Nick Hernandez provided an update on Wilson Park master plan progress.
The train was fenced off to the public recently in an effort to begin removing lead paint that was found when the planning process was wrapping up.
So far, the refurbishment of the train has included removing excess earth around the base of the train and the rails on which it sits.
The city also is looking at adding fall zone protection.
A rough estimate for the final restoration work is somewhere around $100,000, Hernandez said.
L.G. Pike Construction has offered to lend its staff on a volunteer basis to help with any metal fabrication that needs to be done.
“We’re trying to keep this (work) as local as possible,” Hernandez said, adding that other folks have volunteered their services to fabricate metal and the like.
“We’re going to light the train so that you can see it in the evening, from the ground up,” Hernandez said.
In addition, the front light, marker lights in the front and rear, and cab lighting all will be rewired through existing conduits so they light up at night.
“We’re going to get the bell ringing again,” Hernandez added.
At one point, the bell’s clapper was removed because of noise complaints from Arkansas City Memorial Hospital, which was located just across Birch Avenue.
“I remember when I was a kid, I was ringing it,” said Commissioner Jay Warren.
There also is a plan to put a steam whistle back on the train, with the possibility of sounding the whistle during large events such as the Arkalalah Big Parade.
The train located in Wilson Park has a sister train, located in Marceline, Missouri, which still is in the same condition it was in when it was parked in the ’50s.
“There are only three engines between us,” Hernandez said, referring to the factory production order of the two engines. (Arkansas City’s was made first.)
“The benefit with having that one in Marceline … is they sat it in their park in 1955 and it hasn’t been played on,” he added. “It’s been fenced off ever since.”
Parts of the train that have been removed can be put back into place using the other train as a reference point.
There even have been discussions about paint. “We’re looking at a satin black finish,” Hernandez said.
“And then we’re going back to the markings that were on the train originally, which haven’t been on the train since the ’40s. It’s going to be a neat process.”
“Are we going to have a grand opening?” asked Commissioner Karen Welch.
“We are going to have a re-dedication ceremony,” Hernandez said. “Hopefully, we can blow the whistle at that point.”
Mayor Duane Oestmann, a former railroad employee, asked if the city has contacted families of the men who put the train in the park in the 1950s.
Hernandez said he had spoken to one person’s grandchild, but he liked the idea of having those individuals present during the process.
Legacy and funding
Fundraising efforts for the changes in the park will start soon, Hernandez said.
“We are going to be making a big announcement next week, probably the first part of next week … in regards to some donors and some funds,” he said.
“That’s going to really help kick off this project.”
Hernandez suggested Legacy Regional Community Foundation should hold the funds.
“It allows for this project to be outside the realm of the City,” he said. “This is a way for (donors) to think their money will not be intermingled with other funds.”
The Legacy Foundation also is able to track all of money, send charitable verification letters and facilitate keeping track of pledges that span multiple years.
Legacy generally charges a 2-percent fee from all donations for such services, but Hernandez said the city will ask its board later this month to waive that fee.
“If you give 100 bucks, they basically take $2 as an administrative fee,” he explained.
In other business, the commission:
- heard a financial update from South Central Kansas Medical Center Chief Financial Officer Holly Harper.
- heard a second reading of and unanimously approved a resolution amending the procedure for expiration of and appointment to city advisory board terms.
- unanimously ratified Oestmann’s reappointment of JoLynn Foster to the South Central Kansas Medical Center Board of Trustees.
- unanimously authorized the city to enter into an agreement with Andale Construction, Inc. for a design-build project approach to reconstruct North 15th Street from Radio Lane to the north city limits, for an amount not to exceed $637,371.87.
- heard a first reading of and unanimously approved an ordinance authorizing the rezoning of 1007 and 1009 S. Summit St. from a R-3 High-Density Residential District to a C-3 General Commercial District.
- unanimously approved an ordinance amending Ordinance No. 2016-12-4422, by fixing the compensation for two amended job titles. The GIS/Planner will become the Principal Planner and the Neighborhood Services Superintendent will become the Building Official.
- unanimously authorized the city to enter into a contract agreement with Nowak Construction for the South Summit Street water line replacement project from Pierce to Tyler avenues, for an amount not to exceed $274,378.75.
- unanimously authorized the city to enter into a contract agreement with Cornejo and Sons, LLC, for the 2017 KLINK resurfacing project on U.S. 77 from the Arkansas River to Tyler Avenue, for an amount not to exceed $557,398.70.