FREEPORT — In anticipation of the start of Amtrak Downeaster service by 2010, the Train Committee has agreed that the hose tower at the Merchants Association is the preferred place for a train station.
According to Sande Updegraph of the Freeport Economic Development Corp., the Department of Transportation advised that the 400-foot platform should begin behind Petrillo's restaurant at 15 Depot St. and stretch toward the Community Center.
She said the cost of the platform would either be paid by a $30 million loan from the Federal Railroad Administration guaranteed by the state, or as part of an Maine DOT economic stimulus package.
Last year the Legislature approved a bill dedicating a percentage
of sales and use tax revenue to the State Transit, Aviation and Rail
Transportation Fund, also known as the STAR Transportation Fund. The
fund will be used to support non-highway transit, including aeronautics
and rail transportation.
Updegraph said the platform costs will be covered, but the train station and any additional amenities would not.
"In this economic time, we think a station without a lot of extras is a good place to start," she said. "We want to plan whatever we do to make the space and the opportunities expandable for the future."
In order to help with the design and use of the train station, public relations and financial opportunities, three subcommittees were formed.
Train Committee Co-chairman Tom Bull, Planning Board member Mac Collins, Traffic and Parking Committee member Jim Gorman and two citizen representatives – Freeport Cabaret owner Betsy Roper and Village Station architect Sean Selby – make up the Station Use and Design subcommittee.
The Public Relations Planning subcommittee is made up of Merchants Association Executive Director Myra Hopkins, Harraseeket Inn owner Nancy Gray, Updegraph and citizen representative Nicole Kirchner.
The Financing Options subcommittee includes Town Council Chairman Rich DeGrandpre, Gene O'Brien of Berenson Associates, Town Manager Dale Olmstead, Carolyn Beem of L.L. Bean and Train Committee Co-chairman Ed Bonney.
Updegraph said in addition to outlining each subcommittee's charge, the larger committee will discuss the importance of making the train station a multi-modal hub for transportation.
She said a town trolley, a bus system or bike trails are possible modes of transportation for passengers getting off the train in Freeport.
"It is important we get people off the train, onto the platform and able to move around Freeport in a number of ways," she said.
Train Committee meetings will take place the first Thursday of each month. The next meeting will take place Thursday, Feb. 5, at Freeport Cabaret.