See original article at http://www.burling...ews/article/291733
Derailed: Historic Freeman Station remains homeless
Building must be relocated, restored by March 2011 in order for city to benefit from $666,666 federal stimulus funding
Jason Misner, Burlington Post Staff
Published on Jan 15, 2010
The $1 million relocation of the historic Freeman train station to a site on the beachway has fallen off the tracks.
It’s back to the drawing board for the city to find a suitable spot and use for the building that has been propped up on beams behind the firehall on Fairview Street for the last few years.
City council recently voted to quash an earlier plan that the station be moved to a site southeast of where Lakeshore Road, North Shore Boulevard and Maple Avenue converge.
The station was originally located near Fairview and Brant streets along the CN Rail line. Once upon a time, it provided the platform for soldiers departing for service in the First World War.
Beachfront site abandoned
The beach site was chosen last summer among a handful of places because of its close proximity to the former Radial Electric Line and Grand Trunk Railway Line, its visibility to the public and the potential for complementary uses related to nearby attractions like Joseph Brant Museum and Discovery Landing.
Councillors, though, voted not to proceed with a process to determine uses for the station at beachway. They did so because they were especially worried about adding more buildings to the beachfront and obstructing views, said Leo DeLoyde, Burlington’s general manager of development and infrastructure.
Instead, the city will hold a workshop on Monday (Jan. 18) to discuss ideas, with a staff report outlining a proposed process for public input into the final site selection and determination of a building use expected in February.
City Hall has long believed the building has significant cultural relevance and should be protected as best as possible.
It has been five years since the station was removed from its original location along the rail line. Ever since, local politicians have debated what do with it — including the now-defunct idea of using it as the new terminal for Burlington Transit.
It found temporary digs at the back of the fire department’s parking lot and isn’t hooked up to any heating source; it sits atop blocks and beams.
Staff say the crib structure holding the building in place was intended for a much shorter sitting period.
“It’s starting to sag a little bit,” DeLoyde said.
Freeman Station supporter Dave Morris has been trying for a long time to get the building relocated and opened for business of some kind. He urged council not to waste the stimulus money available to help save this “jewel” in the city’s “heritage crown.”
He said perhaps the building could be used to show off railway photos, adding he didn’t want to see the station “languish” in a parking lot.
Councillors were adamant the station be saved and many didn’t want to miss out on the upper level government money.
Others said they want to be ‘wowed’ by the potential use for the building that would also yield the best return on the use of taxpayers’ money.
“Time is of the essence; this building is deteriorating. We need to get on with this. We have the money,” said Councillor Rick Craven.
It can be a “benefit” to the city, added Councillor Carol D’Amelio.
“We cannot lose this station,” she said.
Councillor Rick Goldring suggested businesses be invited to the workshop to offer ideas on what to do with the train station.
Mayor Cam Jackson wondered why a use of the building wasn’t decided “almost immediately” after it was determined the station would be saved.
“We really have to find out how we’re going to use it,” he said.
Meanwhile, time will be a factor as council determines what to do with the building, staff says.
The city has received government stimulus funding totaling $666,666 for the relocation of Freeman Station. The city is contributing $333,333.
The stimulus-funding program requires the station be relocated and restored by March 2011.
That means a decision needs to be made quickly on the location of the building so that required design work and site approvals can be in place for a spring restoration.
Heritage Burlington — which approves of the beachway site — has told the Post there’s concern about the building being subjected to more winter seasons.
The station closed in 1988 and, since that time, various efforts have been made to secure the structure and find a way to re-use it.
It was originally to become the new transit headquarters, but politicians nixed the idea during the 2007 budget approval, saving $1.5 million in the process.
Grand Trunk Railway built the Freeman station in 1906, replacing a station that burned two years earlier.
The station played a key role in the city’s history in the shipment of farm produce.
If you have fond memories of Freeman Station from days gone by when it was still in operation, the Burlington Post would like to hear about it.
Send us your stories of visiting the station, along with your full name, complete mailing address and a daytime phone number where we can reach you for additional comments. You can e-mail the information to firstname.lastname@example.org
or mail it to Freeman Station, c/o Burlington Post, 5040 Mainway, Unit 1, Burlington, Ont., L7L 7G5.