All Aboard! Freeman station just might be back in business. Tickets will be sold as part of the fund raising?


By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  October 1, 2012  The Friends of the Freeman station will know by the end of the week what they are going to be able to do with the building.

If Councillors Meed Ward and Lancaster step forward and speak forcefully enough they should be able to convince their fellow council members to approve the Joint Venture Agreement staff has prepared.

The Friends already have a three year lease with the owners of the property that is to the immediate east of the Fire Department headquarters on Plains Road where the station is sitting on blocks.

If the Friends can get the approval they need at committee this week- they then head for Council where it should get rubber stamped and then they move into fund raising mode.

She sits on blocks that don’t look all that secure but she is still at least in one piece – sort of. The Friends of the Freeman Station are ready to move the structure onto land that is less than 100 yards away from where she sits today. Progress.

Financially they are in pretty good shape and have enough money in hand or readily available to them to get the building off the blocks and over into the property they’ve leased and begin preparing the foundation it needs to rest on.

There is a bunch of excited if slightly exhausted people who will breathe a sigh of relief and a cheer when this deal gets one.  The historic station came close to becoming firewood for someone in the province.

For the longest time the city couldn’t find a place to put the structure.  Back when the city had federal funds to rehabilitate the station council couldn’t agree on where it should go.  The Art Centre didn’t want it on their property.  Councillors Craven and Thoem let themselves be badgered and bullied, by residents in high rises across the road from Brant House, into voting against putting the building on the edge of Spencer Smith Park close to where the Brant Inn was once located.  Councillor Craven can make amends for that gaff made years ago by voting for the Joint Venture.  Councillor Thoem moved on to his reward after losing his seat in 2010 to Meed Ward who moved at the last minute to save the station.

Councillor Sharman could let the spark of a social conscience rise in his breast and vote for the venture.  He wasn’t a believer when the idea of saving the station was on its last legs.

Councillor Taylor can support this – it isn’t going to cost much and citizens deserve his support for the really hard work they have put in.  City staff estimate it is going to cost between $80,000 and $130,000 to design and construct a foundation and then move the building.

That the building survived several winters on the shakiest of settings is not something the city can take any credit for.  They should be ashamed that they seem prepared to just let the thing rot or fall over. Citizens ensured it was saved now staff needs to get out of the way and let the committee get on with the job or get on board and let the ill of the community prevail. When Friends of Freeman come looking for support – be generous.

The Friends have raised $30,000.  That along with $25,000 available for the project from a Section 37 payment the Molinaro’s negotiated with the city.  Include the $20,000 the city has in an account created to save the Freeman station when there was federal stimulation money on the table – gives the Friends  $75,000 to work with.  This is looking more and more like a slam dunk.  Kudos to Meed Ward for jumping in to support a community that wanted to save the station.  Now all she has to do is make sure it gets through committee.

Councillor Dennison may have had a train set as a young boy and he may manage to see beyond  the budget visor he tends to wear and go along with this one.

For a while, the location for the station is now along Plains Road – everyone knows it will eventually be on the waterfront somewhere in the Beachway where it belongs – beside the rail bed that once directed trains to the station.  Jack Dennison may not be on Council when this eventually happens but he does want to sit out on a deck at the Pump House and enjoy a glass of wine.  He can do that and look with some satisfaction at the Freeman Station – home at last.

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