Move it or lose it, BNSF tells city

Published on Thu, Nov 21, 2002 by Meg Olson

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Move it or lose it, BNSF tells city

By Meg Olson

Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad is willing to give Blaine the old rail depot, if the city is willing to move it.

“I told her I was really disappointed,” said city manager Gary Tomsic. In an October 25 letter Carol Sanders of The Staubach Company, a real estate agency representing the railway, told Tomsic that “a conveyance of the building is something BNSF is willing to consider. The land, however, is not available for sale or donation.” If the city wants use of the building, she added, “it would need to be relocated off the property and the property would need to be fenced at the city’s expense.”

Tomsic said he had been looking into acquiring the old depot as a museum and visitor’s center for the city. He wrote to Steve Kuzma in the BNSF property division based in Texas, who sent the letter to Sanders. “The depot is located between our historic downtown and the harbor,” Tomsic explained in a July 29 letter to Kuzma. “Though we have limited funds we believe we can use volunteer efforts and some of our tourism tax dollars to help restore this wonderful old building. We hope that you will support our vision and work with us by allowing the use of the facility for a visitor’s center and museum.”

Having to move the building effectively killed the idea, Tomsic said, and he didn’t understand why it was necessary. “I can understand them wanting to keep the property and not give it away,” he said. “The perfect answer would have been a long term lease.”

Railroad activity at the location has been dwindling since improvements were made to rail facilities south of Blaine at Swift. “There isn’t any railway activity to speak of near the depot anymore,” Tomsic said.
Sanders and Kuzma did not return calls seeking comment...

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