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Restore old depot

City leaders in St. Clairsville are considering a project that would preserve a piece of the community’s history, and it is one they should undertake.

Situated along Sugar Street is an old transportation hub that could be adapted for modern use. The retired railroad depot would require some work to be a viable public facility, but it seems it is not too far gone to salvage.

According to Gabe Hayes, a local resident who works with Wallace-Pancher engineering firm, The building needs roof repairs, work on its interior walls and scraping and painting of its exterior walls. Its windows already have been restored.

Considering that the depot was built prior to 1887, it sounds like it i in pretty good shape. It also sounds like it is a piece of local history that is worth preserving.

Hayes said the functions the building might serve have note yet been determined; however, there are several possibilities. It is located near enough to the former Belmont County fairgrounds that it could serve some purpose in connection with that site, if plans to revive that location as a community park move forward. Hayes said it also is close enough to the city’s bike trail that it could serve as a trailhead. In either case, he said a restroom could be added to make it even more functional for community use.

The city already owns the land where the building stands. More than 10 years ago, according to Hayes, the city obtained Clean Ohio funds from the District 18 Natural Resources Council to buy the site. The community garden is located there, trees have been planted and a beautification project undertaken. Because of the type of funding used to buy the site, the property must be dedicated to nature conservation.

Bu Hayes said more funding may be available to rehabilitate the building, Already, Belmont College’s Historic Building and Restoration Program volunteered to restore the windows, so help is obviously available.

City leaders — and residents — should get excited about the possibilities the depot holds and take steps to make them a reality. Doing so can only benefit the city.

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