Where We’re at with the Fall Depot Move

The stars have aligned for saving Northfield’s 1888 depot! Although in process for many years, several major components of this complex project came together this summer:

  • milestone fundraising goal reached for the move (more is needed for some repairs and interior renovation)
  • transfer of the City property for the depot’s new site
  • final negotiations with Canadian Pacific Railway for the depot building removal
  • approval of Remedial Action Plan for site soil contamination

First Fundraising Milestone
Thank you to all of our supporters who donated the funds that served as “the engine to move this train out of the station”!

We are grateful to those of you who have supported the project for the last several years—through your donations, your volunteer efforts, and your encouraging words. The funds raised most recently in the spring and early summer 2015 that helped meet the first milestone came from several sources:

  • individuals from the community matching a significant challenge grant from Carleton alum, Dante Stephensen
  • a major donation from First National Bank
  • proceeds from the Eagles spaghetti dinner and silent auction
  • funds from the Defeat of Jesse James Days committee that had been given to them a decade ago by Bernie Hughes which he earmarked for “the depot”       

Meeting the first fundraising milestone of $228,550 authorized activity for the sale of the City property to us so the depot could be moved. Promoting public awareness and fundraising continues for necessary repairs after the move and interior renovation of the building in 2015-16 (see photo below). We will also be seeking donations for the pavilion and sculpture garden to be added in Spring 2017.

DJJD parade entry
DJJD parade entry: Save the Northfield Depot co-chairs (l to r) Lynn Vincent and Rob Martin with the future generation (l to r) Oliver, Paige and Allison.

Property Acquisition

On August 24, Save the Northfield Depot board members and First National Bank of Northfield signed the Letter of Credit, one of the City requirements for the transfer of land (see photo below).

signing letter of credit with banker
Signing letter of credit with banker: (l to r) Save the Northfield Depot officers: Clark Webster, Treasurer; Rob Martin, Co-Chair; Alice Thomas, Secretary; Lynn Vincent, Co-Chair; and Tom Posch, First National Bank Vice President

The closing on the property was completed on Friday, October 2 (see photo below). This allows us to begin preparing the site for the future depot. The moving company plans to use a “trench” method: the basement will be excavated, gravel placed on the bottom, piers poured to hold the depot, and the depot moved onto the piers but remaining on the truck while the foundation is built up to the depot beams. This method best assures the stability of an old structure.

signing the property deed
Signing the property deed: (l to r) Lynn Vincent, co-chair of Save the Northfield Depot ; Jodie Garlie, Rice Co. Abstract & Title Company Agent; and Chris Heineman, City of Northfield Community Planning & Development Director

Depot Building

The contract with Canadian Pacific Railways (CPR) was signed by Save the Northfield Depotand CPR on September 11. We attempted unsuccessfully to include the demolition of the roofless building in the contract, but CPR reassured us that it would be removed next year.

Before work on the depot can begin, an additional agreement between CPR and the general contractor, ProCon from Faribault, is required. It regards construction and demolition practices near the railroad tracks. Due to safety issues unique to railroads, both Save the Northfield Depot and ProCon are required to have special insurance policies. Fortunately, the building mover—Spencer Movers from Blue Earth, Minnesota—has experience moving depots.

The only remaining portion of the agreement between CPR and ProCon to be fulfilled before the move is for ProCon’s construction workers to complete a required online rail-safety course, after which the building can be repaired and moved.

Remedial Action Plan

In June, the firm hired by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (from whom Save the Northfield Depot obtained a grant for soil testing), provided us with an approved clean-up plan called a Remedial Action Plan. The contamination is not as serious as what might have been expected in a former railroad bed. The plan provided some options to minimize the amount of soil that will need to be taken off site and thus minimize expenses. The preferred site plan is compatible with the plan to minimize the soil removal. The terrain of the new site will, however, require significant in-fill.

The completion of the Remedial Action Plan and the land transfer allows the grading to begin on the new site in preparation to building a basement and foundation for the depot.

Other Recent Activity

  • Hired a general contractor and mover; obtained bids from sub-contractors.
  • Established escrow account with the City, and completed paperwork for title abstract and title insurance in preparation for closing.
  • Consulted with the Preservation Commission regarding restoration decisions.
  • Filed various City applications/permits (site plan approval, variance approval) and preparing others (demolition permit of 1944 addition, building permit, and moving permit).
  • Accepted a donation of iron pillars from the 2nd Street 1886 bridge to be incorporated into the sculpture garden (more details will be provided later).

Upcoming Events

  • Groundbreaking. In the next few weeks, watch for details on the groundbreaking ceremony to be held before construction starts on the site.
  • October 29, 5 – 8 p.m., Spaghetti Dinner and Silent Auction at the Eagles Club. Tickets are available at the door or from Rob Martin Agency and board members. Call 507-398-5225 if interested. Items for the silent auction can be dropped off at the Eagles any day after 3 p.m. except on Monday.
  • November 12, 3-6 p.m., S’mores around the campfire at the new depot site. Stop by to have a s’more with us around a campfire to raise money to continue our restoration efforts on the exterior and interior of the depot. Suggested donation of $5 per s’more. We will have an Internet connection available to donate through GiveMN as well.
  • Early November – the highlight of the year! Watch your emails for announcement of the move of the depot in early November. The mover has indicated it will take about three weeks in total to prepare the depot to be removed from the current foundation, load it onto the truck, move across the street, and place the building on the piers on the new site. We’ll keep you informed about progress.

Once on the depot is on the new site, we will be calling on those who have volunteered to contribute their time and skills for repairs, etc. Volunteers cannot work on the building while it is on railroad property. Watch for a detailed list of ways you as a volunteer can help once it is moved and on Save the Northfield Depot property.

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