Palmer loses bid to secure old train depot
PALMER – The City of Palmer was defeated Saturday in its bid to bring the historic train depot back to downtown Palmer.
The depot, built in 1890, sat for nearly 100 years on the square beside the railroad tracks.
In the early 1980’s, having outlived its usefulness as a functioning train depot, it was given up by the city.
It was then moved to its current location, just off Interstate 45, on Matt Road. The owner recently put the depot up for public auction.
In a last minute effort to pool resources, the Palmer City Council approved a proposal put forward by the Palmer Economic Development Corporation.
The primary purpose of the PEDC is to spur economic growth and development within Palmer.
Their charter allows them to accomplish that in a number of ways, including, among others, the development of infrastructure, parks and historical preservation that enhances the community and makes it a more desirable place for people and businesses to locate.
The members of the PEDC felt very strongly that relocating the Palmer Train Depot within the downtown commercial business district represented a significant opportunity to define a focal point around which to encourage future development.
Projects undertaken by the PEDC require the approval of Palmer City Council.
The PEDC had proposed the formation of a partnership with the Palmer Preservation Society, in an effort to secure unanimous support for the project from council, the society and the citizens of Palmer.
On Tuesday night, City Council overwhelmingly endorsed the proposition.
The PEDC pledged the use of its funds in an attempt to secure the Train Depot through the bidding process. If successful, the PEDC also agreed to fund the relocation of the Depot to downtown Palmer.
The Palmer Preservation Society had a site within the downtown business district that would’ve been suitable to return the Train Depot to its former stature.
Under the proposal submitted by the PEDC, ownership of the building would have been given back to the City of Palmer. The restoration and operation of the historic Palmer Train Depot was to be given over to the Palmer Preservation Society, in perpetuity, for the establishment of a museum which would highlight the City of Palmer’s unique place in Texas history and the influence it has had in the development of Ellis County.
The PEDC had committed to spending up to $30,000 to buy the building and move it back to Palmer.
However, at noon Saturday, bidding quickly surpassed the approved budget with the depot being sold to a private landowner for $35,500. The price does not include relocation costs of $12,000 to $18,000.
The 1,400 sq. ft. building had been remodeled into a modest home, with all the traditional amenities. In need of a new roof, the building would have required a substantial remodeling effort to turn it into a building designed to serve the public, either as a museum, visitor center or meeting hall.
At press time, although the depot isn’t returning to its original site in downtown Palmer, it is returning to within Palmer City Limits. The buyer has indicated his intention to move it to his ranch, within Palmer City Limits.