Chesterton Tribune



Chesterton Park Board buys boxcar and caboose for Thomas Park restrooms

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The Chesterton Park Board has moved definitively ahead with plans to install a retrofitted boxcar restroom facility--along with a warming station caboose--in Thomas Centennial Park.

At its meeting Tuesday night, the board voted unanimously to purchase a 10’ x 50’ boxcar from the Orville Railroad Heritage Society in Orville, Ohio, at a cost of $9,000. As part of that vote the board also authorized the expenditure of up to $14,000 for the overland transportation of the box car to Michigan City, where--pending further contractual arrangements--it will be retrofitted by industrial sandblaster and painter Mike Stewart, d.b.a. Preferred Contractor Services Co. That was the board’s first vote.

The board then voted unanimously to purchase a caboose from Stewart at a price not to exceed $15,000 as well as to authorize Stewart to refurbish the caboose at a price not to exceed $16,500.

Both votes were contingent on legal review and approval of the various purchase and service contracts.

Richard Riley, owner of Riley’s Railhouse at 123 N. Fourth St. in Chesterton and the booster who originally brought the boxcar proposal to the board in November, has done much over the last month to bring the project to the point at which board members could take meaningful action on Monday.

Riley, working with train car broker Ozark Mountain Railcar, found five different boxcars from which to choose in Orville. The one he recommended purchasing, Riley said, is altogether intact, without the casual dings and dents one might expect in an old boxcar, although a certain amount of exterior rust and discoloration does show its age.

Identifying the boxcar was the easy part, though. Getting it to Indiana will be considerably more complicated and expensive. While it could in principle be trained to Stewart’s shop in Michigan City, its brake assembly would need to be tested and certified and special permissions obtained because its bearings are non-standard, Riley said. Instead, he recommended the services of trucking firm Schlatter’s Inc., which specializes in the transport of train cars and has in fact shipped three of Riley’s own.

Meanwhile, the board agreed to purchase from Stewart a cupola caboose for $15,000, which for an additional $16,500 he will refurbish, including wet-blasting its exterior, applying a full coat of epoxy primer, performing minor exterior metal repairs, then applying a full finish coat with all necessary detailing and polyurethane coatings. Stewart promised the board to provide by its next meeting a proposal for refurbishing the boxcar as well.

The next crucial step in the process is for architect Robert Nicksic of James F. Giannini & Associates to complete his specifications for the interiors of the two cars and obtain approval of his drawings from the state. Nicksic told the board that he will probably have his specs in hand when it meets again, on Feb. 6, at which time the board will be able to go out for quotes on the project. Town Engineer Mark O’Dell said that it may be necessary to hold a special meeting to open the quotes in advance of its March meeting, in order to expedite the process.

Under Riley’s aggressive timeline, all external and internal work on the two cars would be completed in April and the cars brought to site in Thomas Centennial Park; and they would be connected to utilities early in May and a ADA access ramp constructed.

According to an itemized list of estimated expenses associated with the project, which O’Dell provided to the board, it will cost $30,000 to refurbish both cars’ exteriors; $10,000 to purchase the ties and rails on which the cars will be sited; $18,500 in architect’s fees; $35,000 to retrofit the interiors of the two cars; and $10,00 to build the ADA access ramp.

Total estimated cost: $158,000, approximately $20,000 more than the modular concrete restroom just installed in Dogwood Park. The boxcar/caboose project is being funded through the $2-million bond issued by the board in 2015.

O’Dell noted that it will cost an additional estimated $43,000 to install site utilities for the new restroom, including electric and water, but he added that it would cost that much for any restroom facility, including one of the modular concrete variety.

Election of Officers

The board opened its meeting by unanimously electing Member Paul Shinn president and Member Candy Tucker vice-president. The board also unanimously re-appointed Hilary Thomas-Peterson its secretary.



Posted 1/3/2018




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