Lula has begun looking at preliminary design plans to give its historic downtown train depot a much-needed face-lift
City Manager Dennis Bergin said Wednesday he’s been talking with a couple of prospective design engineers to consider what changes and improvements can be made to the train depot property, which the city has agreed to purchase.
The facility at Railroad Park features a red caboose donated to the city by Southern Railway in 1991. Beginning in the late 19th century, Southern Railway (now Norfolk Southern) owned or controlled several rail lines in the South, including North Georgia.
“We’re all real excited about it,” Bergin said. “I’ve had (design engineers) out on location at the depot, and they’ve already given us some preliminary ideas.”
Bergin said he’s had talks with design engineers from Fayetteville and Toccoa.
“I like what I’m already seeing,” Bergin added “We’ll see how the council feels about that. The best part about this is it’s going to become a great community center for the area.”
Although he’s identified two prospective design engineers, Bergin said it will be City Council’s decision whether to choose from one of them, or put out a request for proposals.
In the meantime, city officials continue to wait for the head of the Lula Area Betterment Association to sign a contract that officially would turn over the depot property to Lula.
City Council approved a contract Aug. 7 to acquire the depot property through a quick-claim deed. Bergin said it’s a matter of LABA president Mere Barbee signing the contract.
“I talked to Ms. Barbee today, and she said it’s just a matter of her finding the time to go to Gainesville to sign the paper,” Bergin said.
Under the terms of the agreement, the city would receive the deed to the depot along with land, equipment and content. In return, LABA gets $5,000 and up to another $4,000 for the organization’s past and present legal fees.
Bergin previously said the city is prepared to spend approximately $80,000 over two years to make improvements at the depot. He said renovations would begin in January because the depot is rented out for the most part through the end of the year.
Lula’s popular Railroad Days Festival has been held at the train depot for more than 40 years.