A long fought effort to save the historic Union Pacific Depot in Marysville from demolition was accomplished Monday evening as the Marysville City Council unanimously approved purchase of the three block area which includes the depot, the former railyard to the west property line extending from Carolina Street on the south to Calhoun on the north, as well as the overflow parking lot located east across Hedrix. A proposal by the Marysville Union Pacific Depot Preservation Society calls for that group to then acquire the depot, and adjacent parking immediately north and south from the city for $20,000, offsetting a total purchase price for the entire property for $151,000. That group had worked diligently for the past year hoping to buy and renovate the 1920’s era, southwestern style structure. Negotiations with U.P. had stalled recently with their request that the property be sold only to an established entity, such as local government.
The city will move forward with control over future development of the entire area, with plans to sell parts of the property to adjacent businesses, which have indicated interest in expanding. It also allows for connection of the Pony Express Plaza and Seventh Street corridor improvements downtown with that area extending three blocks north to Calhoun, and paves the way for the possibility of connecting with the Blue River Rail Trail at the north edge of Marysville.
The agreement with Union Pacific calls for the railroad to fund the entire cost of asbestos, and lead paint removal and abatement on the depot, which could run up to $177,000. Ben Jones with the railroad, who was a key in negotiations with the group and the city was in attendance Monday, and expressed their desire to see the project move forward, and that they were committed to assuring that the city would not be burdened with such unforeseen additional costs.
Some 30-40 supporters of the depot restoration were also in the audience Monday evening, including Leroy Schroller, whose call for action last spring was sparked when the railroad was just days away from tearing down the structure after previous multiyear efforts to save it had failed, and the city had turned down an option to purchase the west portion of the property, and assume possession of the depot. Rachel Frye, chairman of the group addressed council questions regarding potential environmental concerns with the former railyard, citing an extensive environmental study which is on file at city hall that found no significant unknown concerns with the property, if the soil were left undisturbed, and would not be excavated. Bruce Dierking, spokesman for the group noted that limited fundraising efforts thus far would provide funds for the purchase, and included a recent $10,000 local contribution, and another $10,000 pledge received as recently as Monday evening, contingent on successful acquisition of the property. Additional fundraising efforts were announced, with contributions and questions directed to Schroller, Frye, or Dierking. The group also welcomes any volunteers interested in assisting with the next phase of the effort, which includes formalizing the agreement, securing the building, continuing discussions with a restoration architect, and determining community interest in how the depot will be used after renovation. Grant funds will also be targeted in the future to complete improvements.