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Published: Thursday, 4/15/2004

Defiance seeks grant to refurbish rail depot

BY KIM BATES
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Ralph Hahn and other members of Historic Homes of Defiance want to help restore the city's two-story railroad depot. Ralph Hahn and other members of Historic Homes of Defiance want to help restore the city's two-story railroad depot.
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DEFIANCE - A boarded-up rail depot along one of this city's main routes may be on its way to getting a face-lift.

City leaders this week agreed to apply today to the Ohio Department of Transportation for a grant to help them purchase the nearly 90-year-old landmark - a frequent target of vandals.

"We know in the last three years, it's deteriorated very rapidly," said Ralph Hahn, president of the Historic Homes of Defiance group. "Our concern is to get it sealed. It's just something that needs to be done for the community."

The money, if received, could allow the city to buy the old depot from its current owner, CSX Transportation Inc., and begin stabilizing the South Clinton Street structure to avoid further decay. Ultimately, an assessment of the building would be conducted to determine its future worth.

The initial project is estimated to cost about $150,000, said city Administrator Jeff Leonard. He said the grant calls for the city to pay 20 percent, or $30,000, of the project cost.

The grant application this week was welcome news for historians like Mr. Hahn, who said he started raising concerns about the depot three years ago this month.

Mr. Hahn said he began by contacting a CSX representative and making inquiries about the depot. Later, he said the former mayor and administrator got involved in the effort, with interested individuals taking tours of the structure.

During the tours, Mr. Hahn said he snapped photographs of its interior, showing water damage on its ceilings and walls, but tile floors in the vestibule and other architectural features were still in decent shape.

The former Baltimore and Ohio passenger rail terminal served its last passenger train in the early 1970s, and later was used as a storage area by the railroad.

Currently, many of its entrances are boarded up, with higher glass panes broken out on the structure.

David Hall, a spokesman for

CSX, said the company is aware of the city's interest in purchasing the depot. But he said there have been no formal discussions on the matter yet.

He said CSX is always willing to listen to any interest from communities. If and when Defiance leaders approach the firm, Mr. Hall said CSX would be available for such discussions.

Mr. Hahn said his group - it has about 60 to 70 active members - is also is interested in assisting the city on the stabilization project.

He said a recent survey showed that an overwhelming percentage of group members were in favor of donating their own time or money to a preservation effort.

Contact Kim Bates at:

kimbates@theblade.com

or 419-337-7780.



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