Thursday, July 19, 2012

Town Receives Letter of Intent from Amtrak on Sale of Historic Station

The Town of Windsor Locks has received a Letter of Intent from Amtrak to sell the historic trian station and its footprint to the Town. This is an important step so that the Town and State of Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) feel comfortable spending Small Town Economic Assistance Program grant funds on the design of the restoration of the historic station. The Town will be consulting with the grants administrator for DEEP to get authorization to proceed with the design work. Crosskey Architects of Hartford has been selected to design the restoration.

Amtrak intends to arrange for a real estate appraisal of the station. Once the appraisal is in hand then Amtrak and the Town can negotiate the price for the acquisition. The Town has communicated to Amtrak that it would like to purchase the building for $1 so that any funds that are raised going to the actually restoration. Amtrak has commenced its standard, internal engineering and operational clearance process and its management review process. Amtrak also intends to consult with the State of Connecticut in regards to the station's role in the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield commuter rail line project. Once the above steps have been completed the Town and Amtrak would enter into a Agreement of Sale setting forth the terms and conditions for the sale and purchase of the Station.

An Historic Train Station planning committee meets regularly on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month at 7 p.m. to further the restoration effort. The next meeting will take place at Windsor Locks Town Hall on August 14th. A specially-designated account has been set up by the Town to recieve donations. Checks can be written to the Town of Windsor Locks with Historic Train Station Restoration Fund written in the memo section.

Closely tied to the historic station is the Town's efforts to get the train platform relocated back into the downtown area. Now that the Environmental Asssessment public hearing process has concluded for the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield, the Town will be communicating with the Connecticut Department of Transporation about the next steps in the decision-making process relative to moving the station. ConnDOT received favorable public support for the relocation effort during the public hearing process.

The Town has also executed a grant agreement with ConnDOT for a $250,000 Transit Oriented Development Planning Grant. The purpose of the grant is to investigate mixed-use development in the vicinity of the historic train station where the Town would like to see the train platform located. Fuss & O'Neill has been hired by the Town to conduct this planning study. The scope of the work includes the street network in the project area, developing a station-area plan, developing zoning regulations that would encourage mixed-use development in the area, investigating potential redevelop parcels, and a market analysis showing that mixed-used development would be profitable to developers.

The Town is also continuing its efforts to secure back taxes on the Montgomery complex. The Town had pursued a tax-foreclosure auction last September but the property owner declared bankruptcy. Recently the bankruptcy court granted a relief of stay on the foreclosure sale and we are awaiting communication from the court about when we can begin to move forward with the foreclosure. In the meantime, a commercial realtor is working with the owner on trying to secure a purchaser for the property.

First Selectman Steve Wawruck stated, "These are exciting times for the Windsor Locks community. Our planning efforts over the last several years are beginning to have results as we are receiving more developer interest in Main Street area." The Town has been working diligently in securing funds for road reconstruction projects in the Main Street area. The Town has secured funds for sidewalk replacement along Main Street. The Town is also working with local residents in the establishment of a Farmers Market at Dexter Plaza. We are asking local residents to get involved to help in the historic train station restoration project and other enhancements in the Main Street area.