Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Santa Fe Depot damage cause of concern for speed, extent of repai

One of the major topics of discussion this week is what to do with the Santa Fe Depot redevelopment project after it was determined that both a speedy repair was urgently needed and funds needed to be raised as soon as possible.

Last month, new Shawnee City Manager Andrea Weckmueller-Behringer briefed the Shawnee City Commissioners on the Santa Fe Depot renovation project after residents urged residents to remind the board of urgent action – as rainwater continues to damage the historic site at 614 E. Mainly.

Pottawatomie County Historical Society Museum President Mark Schneiter said there was a roof estimate of $ 180,000 two years ago.

Well, Weckmeuller-Behringer said the latest minimum estimate of making the building waterproof is expected at $ 600,000. And that’s not a total project price, there’s more that need to be added, such as interior restoration, paver repair, asbestos and lead testing and maintenance, hiring a construction management company and any contingencies that may arise. Paver repair is valued at $ 141,000 and interior restoration is expected at $ 608,000.

More:Hours before the Shawnee Christmas Parade, a downtown fire ends with a building demolished

More:KidSpace is coming down to make way for the premiere park

Weckmeuller-Behringer said this would bring the current estimate closer to the neighborhood of just under $ 1.4 million, based on GH2’s estimate.

“As you know, the pandemic has really put a huge strain on our supply chain, so there may be further increases in costs,” she said.

While researching 24 Santa Fe depots across the country, as well as three other railroad depots, Weckmeuller-Behringer said she found renovations at these locations fluctuated between $ 20,000 and $ 15 million – an average of $ 1.9 million brought in.

“I think that’s a much more realistic figure ($ 1.9 million) than the $ 1.4 million,” she said.

As part of the city’s half-cent sales tax hike in 2018 on multiple capital improvement projects, funding raised the roof and remodel of the Santa Fe depot – $ 400,000. Some of this money has already been used for the GH2 study.

“It lags behind what this building really needs,” said Weckmeuller-Behringer.

“We really need to find additional grants; we have to find other sources, ”she said. “To save the building – the outer shell alone would cost us over $ 600,000, so we couldn’t pursue that.”

The depot is a historic building so it needs to be restored in a certain way, she said.

Weckmüller-Behringer said there was no point just adding new roof tiles; the whole building needs to be repaired.

On Monday morning, the city commission met for a special session to examine the possibilities for rehab.

Weckmeuller-Behringer said no major updates or improvements have been made to the site since 1987, aside from sidewalks and the cobblestone street.

The GH2 report reports the extent of visible water damage, broken roof tiles, repairs that do not correspond to the historical character of the building (as required by the monument register), problems with the rich caps, insufficiently high veneers, open masonry joints and other things. Many of the problems are direct causes of the water infiltration problems that are more visible inside the building.

Weckmeuller-Behringer said there had been no discussion of the community’s vision for the national landmark.

Determining the function and capacity of the depot would help scrap / secure some of these funding options.

In many of the cases she investigated, Weckmeuller-Behringer said, the sites had more than one function.

What would benefit residents, Main Street and downtown shops, and property owners? She asked.

“These questions should be put to their respective constituents,” she said. “We cannot answer that alone in the city.”

She said that working with stakeholders was needed for a much deeper discussion.

“Vision is something that we definitely need to address for the Santa Fe Depot given the heavy loads that would be required for repair and rehabilitation,” she said.

More:Escape Room Business House of Hints is coming to downtown Shawnee

Funding sources

She said the largest funding mechanism for repair and rehabilitation projects at these depots would come from federal grants, which are generally channeled through each state’s DOT program.

Some funding opportunities, for example from the Federal Transport Authority, offer funds for infrastructure and plant expansions.

“The funding can only be used, however, if there is a direct connection with the use of the infrastructure by transit or rail passenger transport,” said Weckmeuller-Behringer.

In several cases, some state funding was used as an match with federal funding or as a supplement to local funding.

“(And it was) dependent on the use or function of the depot,” she said. “Depending on the funding application, this state money can either have a transport focus as a historical transport building or a monument preservation focus.”

And of course fundraising campaigns were carried out by the city and the community.

Keep or not?

Once funding is clarified, some plans may need to be re-examined.

One concern raised by Ward 2 Shawnee City Commissioner Cami Engles was the reuse of 70 percent of the existing roof tiles.

“Clay tiles have a lifespan of 75 years,” she said on Monday. “It is a difficult process to maintain their structural integrity.”

It was very difficult to remove the tiles and then replace them again without breaking them, she said.

“Taking these off and putting them back on is almost as expensive as buying new clay tiles,” said Engles.

Ward 3 Shawnee City Commissioner Travis Flood asked if it wouldn’t be a better idea to just replace all of the tiles as the current tiles are well past their intended lifespan.

“It could bring us another 70 years, in contrast to the first big hail or wind storm, we are right back in the same shape,” he said.

Since replacing all of the tiles would be a wise consideration, it would increase the price significantly, Weckmeuller-Behringer said.

Adding another perspective, Ward 5 Shawnee City commissioner Mark Sehorn raised whether a $ 2 million cleanup is worth it.

“You know, we have to get the building envelope up the driveway on our part and then figure out what we’re going to do,” he said. “The longer it sits there, the more it will cost us in the long term to fix it.”

He said he believed some of the community would be okay with the plan, but the price is high.

“At some point, you know, do you keep throwing money at them or better spent money elsewhere?” He asked. “It’s an advantage.”

He said what bothers him more than anything is spending $ 2 million on it.

“We want to keep it without a doubt,” said Sehorn. “But is that the smartest thing? Is $ 2 million more well spent developing an exit off Interstate 40 or something that has a huge tax base? “

He said, “You know, we look at sales versus what’s going to come out of them. Yes, sure it would be nice to have a perfect world, but is that the right way to spend $ 2 million? “

Later more

Read more about the history and schedule of the Santa Fe Depot in a future issue or visit news-star.com for the latest information on the situation.

For ideas, questions or concerns about the story, the reporter Vicky O. Misa can be reached at [email protected]

Support the work of Shawnee News Star journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today at news-star.com/subscribe.

Comments are closed.