Trustee: State should give train depot to village

SARANAC LAKE – Village Trustee Allie Pelletieri wants the state to turn the Union Depot train station over to the village.

Speaking at Monday’s village board meeting, Pelletieri said the Depot Street building, which the state Department of Transportation owns and leases to the village, is in need of potentially tens of thousands of dollars worth of repairs and upgrades.

“I don’t think we have the financial ability to do that, nor why would we want to put (money) into something that we don’t own,” Pelletieri said. “My opinion is we should petition the state to either give us that building, and it’s ours, or we should give it back to them.”

Pelletieri said he noticed some electrical work was taking place in the building recently. He also said he spoke to Jan Kibben, a local building construction consultant, who is reportedly getting quotes on the cost of painting the building. Pelletieri said he talked with Kibben about the poor condition of the depot’s roof, “and she agreed that the roof would be next.”

The village subleases the building to the Adirondack Scenic Railroad, which uses it for its seasonal tourist train operation between Saranac Lake and Lake Placid, for $3,000 a year. That much revenue would only pay for a portion of what needs to be done to the building, Pelletieri said.

“The $3,000 has pretty much covered all our regular expense items for it,” said village Treasuer Paul Ellis. “If that was the extent of it we’d be fine, but given the fact that there’s some much needed work, we would not be able to cover it.”

“The lease is coming up in 2015, which is around the corner, and we should be prepared to either sink some money in it, or it won’t look very attractive, or we should give it back to the state,” Pelletieri said. “Personally, I think we should ask the state to just give it to us. At least if it was ours we could try and rent it for more substantial money, move the railroad people into the (smaller Railway Express Agency) building next door, not try to push them out but give them more of what would be suitable and at least make the depot pay for itself.”

Village Community Development Director Jeremy Evans said the cost of the electrical work fits in with the budget for the facility. Kibben is looking into what other upgrades are needed and what they’d cost, he said.

“In anticpation of the lease coming due in a couple years is why we’re trying to get a handle of some of the numbers for what the building is going to need,” Evans said, “so we can start that discussion with DOT, because it’s obviously not going to be something the village can handle.”

Several board members said they were surprised to hear that the building’s roof needs work. The station, built in 1904, was restored in the late 1990s, and its roofing was replaced at the time.

“That shouldn’t need replacement,” said Mayor Clyde Rabideau. “That’s a 30-year roof.” Rabideau, who runs a construction company, said fixing the roof could cost $50,000 to $75,000.

“It shouldn’t be falling apart after just 15 years,” said Trustee Tom Catillaz.

Evans said that’s one of the things Kibben is looking into.

Pelletieri asked for a financial report on what it costs the village to maintain the depot before spending any more money on it.

Contact Chris Knight at 891-2600 ext. 24 or