Windsor Locks Historical Train Station - Follow up Article
By Christopher Gay
Windsor Locks, CT
Just like the mythical Little Engine That Could, the Windsor Locks Preservation Association's effort to save the historic train station just keeps chugging along. WLPA president Barbara Schley was very much in the holiday spirit this year, and with good reason. In mid-December, Rick Lawrence of Lawrence and Associates in Manchester, along with an engineer, performed an extensive structural assessment and took several comprehensive photographs of the building. The objective was to determine any structural
deformities or settling that may exist. Two weeks later the train station committee received a copy of the assessment, and were happy to discover that there were no surprises in the report. “We're very pleased to find out that the building was declared structurally sound and in savable condition,” Schley said.
The document did note that there was some work to be done, however. It indicated minor damage to interior roof trusses, as well as the need for new heating, plumbing and electrical work. In addition, there is the need for new doors and windows, along with the replacement of some exterior brickwork.
After receiving that good news, the holiday season kept right on giving to Schley and the WLPA. In late December she was informed that CME and Associates are donating a necessary and costly survey. This latest survey is crucial because its purpose is to determine property lines, easements and rights of way, due to the train station's close proximity to to state highways and railroad tracks. Schley realizes how fortunate her organization has been due to the generosity of local citizens and the business community, and does not hesitate to give credit where credit is due. “It has touched my heart to see how many professional are so willing to step up and help us with all the assessments and necessary testing to begin the project to save the building. Without these donations, it could have been several years for our group to raise the funds to pay for all of these necessities.”
Perhaps the biggest gift to the WLPA this year came appropriately on December 24. It was on that day that Schley received the group's 5013C non profit status. This status is a critical part of the group's effort, primarily as it now allows the WLPA to solicit corporate donations. Initially, when the WLPA applied for the non profit status in November, they were told the process would take four months to review. The significance of the timing was not lost on Schley. “On Christmas Eve, the WLPA received a special package from Santa. Mickey Danyluk (WLPA vice president) and I were overwhelmed and thrilled that the necessary non profit paperwork had arrived so quickly. It let me know that the spirit of the train station was, in fact, alive and well,” she said.
The whole project in fact has been on the fast track, so to speak. Schley readily acknowledges things are snowballing far more quickly than she had anticipated, with new developments occurring daily. To her, there is a sense of satisfaction as to what has been accomplished so far. “Our organization has done more in 2 months than anyone or other group has done in over 30 years since the train station has been abandoned.”
In the midst of all that is going on, the WLPA is keeping an eye toward the years ahead. “The future goals of the WLPA are that we're in the position that perhaps we ourselves are able to award grants to help citizens to restore historic buildings and homes in Windsor Locks and area towns.”
For now, though, Schley, Danyluk and the WLPA have a full plate set before them, and they intend to finish what they started. After comparing train station photos from 1975 to those from the present, the group has been more determined than ever to complete their task, as it seems that time is not on their side. Said Schley, “it's become evident to me that there is a clock that is ticking, and that we probably have only 10 or 15 years left to save this building before the deterioration has gone too far” On January 24, the WLPA will be holding a closed press conference for the media to review the structural report, a colorized rendition of the master plan, and numerous photographs of the project. An open town meeting will follow at 6 PM at the Windsor Locks Senior Center on Oak Street. The fund raising committee is looking for recipes, as well as usable tag sale items
for an upcoming sale to benefit the train station. For more information on memberships contact Barbara Schley at 860-798-5376.