Despite this winter’s weather, it appears the train station rebuild is still on track for a June rededication.
“We’ve only had one weather delay” since reconstruction began, Town Manager John Hawley told town council members earlier this week. He noted that other complications have arisen, including a discovery that the structure’s three chimneys were too damaged to repair.
But the bad weather hasn’t been an issue.
“It’s surprising we’re on schedule considering the weather we’ve been having,” Mayor Jeff Worrell said. The town is shooting for a June 11 rededication ceremony.
“We’ve had a lot of good things to say about South End (Construction Inc.) at this point,” Hawley added. South End is the Roanoke contractor hired to rebuild the depot.
Town Engineer Bill Pedigo said the roof trusses will be set beginning Monday.
Although the town is still having issues resolving insurance coverage for the chimney rebuilds and restoration work on museum artifacts recovered from the fire, Hawley said “we feel pretty comfortable with everything at this time. We’ll still have no problem meeting the completion date.”
However, Pedigo warned town council members that any changes in the layout of the facility need to be discussed immediately because “right now is the time to make them.”
As a result, Hawley stressed the importance in determining how the train station will be used.
Prior to the November 2008 fire, the Raymond F. Ratcliffe Museum was housed in the train station. Since that time, long-held plans have moved forward to construct a new museum building across Washington Avenue from the depot.
Worrell said he has envisioned the station being used as a multi-use community center and office space for Greater Pulaski Alliance (GPA).
Hawley said he has not spoken with GPA about office space and returning its annual farmer’s market to the train station, but he hasn’t heard anything to suggest the group won’t move back.
Current plans call for the train station to include a large conference room, small conference room, two bathrooms and a kitchenette.
Councilman Morgan Welker said he would like to see GPA set up an office in the small conference room and then have Pulaski Senior Center use the large conference room instead of the building on Washington Avenue. He noted that would allow for someone to be present to help the public at all times.
Pedigo said the kitchenette would have to be better equipped than plans call for if the Senior Center moves to the train station.
Vice Mayor David Clark said he would like to see the large conference room used for conference space because there aren’t many choices of large meeting facilities in the area. Therefore, he questioned whether it is feasible for the Senior Center to move there.
“My concern is that (the center) might tie it up so that there is no opportunity to use it for anything else,” Worrell said.
Pedigo reminded council that they also will have to address furnishings for the station. He said he feels sure he can bring the project in “under budget and on time,” but it will be an empty building.
Hawley said he expects the town to get some insurance reimbursement for the items lost in the fire.
Welker suggested the town look into getting surplus supplies from Virginia Tech or a government surplus store in Wytheville.
Councilman Larry Clevinger II said it is his understanding GPA has replaced everything it lost in the fire. “They don’t need a thing right now,” he said.
Worrell said there also has been some discussion with Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce about a visitor’s center at the station. He suggested the chamber, GPA and Senior Center be contacted to find out their interest in the train station so that use of the building can be further discussed at council’s March 16 work session.