The Franklin News-Post|
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Staff Photo by Ken Bradley:
Boones Mill Mayor Ben Flora, left, and councilman Mike Smith announce an anonymous matching gift of $50,000 and a fundraising initiative to save the old Norfolk & Western railroad depot.
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
By KEN BRADLEY - Staff Writer
The Town of Boones Mill's effort to save the old railroad depot has received an anonymous $50,000 matching gift to help move it off Norfolk Southern Railroad property to another location.
The announcement of the gift and a fundraising campaign to raise $100,000 was announced by Boones Mill Mayor Ben Flora and town council member Mike Smith at a press conference Tuesday at the depot.
Flora said he would hate to see "history fade into the sunset" by not saving the depot.
Norfolk Southern has given town council until May 1 to remove the depot from its current location, which is owned by the railroad.
If it can be moved, the depot would be used as a cultural center for art and music, Flora said. It would also serve as a museum and a visitor's center.
"It would be a catalyst for Boones Mill," he said. "It can spur growth and community involvement."
Along with the matching funds, $68,000 more is needed to move the depot, Flora said.
"This goal is in sight, and this matching grant will help us to save the Boones Mill Depot," Flora added.
Boones Mill Town Councilman Mike Smith said the depot represents a part of the history of Franklin County as well as Boones Mill.
"It's really a big thing for the county and Boones Mill," he added. "While the town will own the depot, local (taxpayer) dollars will not be used to help move and restore the historic building."
The town "is applying for grants and asking rail fans and citizens of Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains to help us," Smith said.
Donations are tax deductible. An official donation form can be found on the Boones Mill website (www.townofboonesmill.org) or on the "Restoring the Boones Mill Norfolk & Western Railroad Station" Facebook page.
The Roanoke Valley Preservation Foundation is also accepting donations on behalf of the Town of Boones Mill. Donations can be mailed to: Roanoke Valley Preservation Foundation, Attn: Boones Mill Depot, P.O. Box 1366, Roanoke, Va. 24007.
If Boones Mill is successful in saving the depot, it would be moved to a site owned by the county. In return, Boones Mill would give the county property on which to locate a dumpster site.
For that to happen, county officials have said the railroad crossing that borders the site must be turned from a private right-of-way into a public right-of-way.
Also, the proposed dumpster site would have to be upgraded.
These items would have to be paid for by The Town of Boones Mill, county officials said.
The depot building is 107 years old and was once a major part of the town's economy.