The Chesterton Park
Board has moved definitively ahead with plans to install a retrofitted
boxcar restroom facility--along with a warming station caboose--in Thomas
At its meeting
Tuesday night, the board voted unanimously to purchase a 10’ x 50’ boxcar
from the Orville Railroad Heritage Society in Orville, Ohio, at a cost of
$9,000. As part of that vote the board also authorized the expenditure of up
to $14,000 for the overland transportation of the box car to Michigan City,
where--pending further contractual arrangements--it will be retrofitted by
industrial sandblaster and painter Mike Stewart, d.b.a. Preferred Contractor
Services Co. That was the board’s first vote.
The board then
voted unanimously to purchase a caboose from Stewart at a price not to
exceed $15,000 as well as to authorize Stewart to refurbish the caboose at a
price not to exceed $16,500.
Both votes were
contingent on legal review and approval of the various purchase and service
owner of Riley’s Railhouse at 123 N. Fourth St. in Chesterton and the
booster who originally brought the boxcar proposal to the board in November,
has done much over the last month to bring the project to the point at which
board members could take meaningful action on Monday.
Riley, working with
train car broker Ozark Mountain Railcar, found five different boxcars from
which to choose in Orville. The one he recommended purchasing, Riley said,
is altogether intact, without the casual dings and dents one might expect in
an old boxcar, although a certain amount of exterior rust and discoloration
does show its age.
boxcar was the easy part, though. Getting it to Indiana will be considerably
more complicated and expensive. While it could in principle be trained to
Stewart’s shop in Michigan City, its brake assembly would need to be tested
and certified and special permissions obtained because its bearings are
non-standard, Riley said. Instead, he recommended the services of trucking
firm Schlatter’s Inc., which specializes in the transport of train cars and
has in fact shipped three of Riley’s own.
board agreed to purchase from Stewart a cupola caboose for $15,000, which
for an additional $16,500 he will refurbish, including wet-blasting its
exterior, applying a full coat of epoxy primer, performing minor exterior
metal repairs, then applying a full finish coat with all necessary detailing
and polyurethane coatings. Stewart promised the board to provide by its next
meeting a proposal for refurbishing the boxcar as well.
The next crucial
step in the process is for architect Robert Nicksic of James F. Giannini &
Associates to complete his specifications for the interiors of the two cars
and obtain approval of his drawings from the state. Nicksic told the board
that he will probably have his specs in hand when it meets again, on Feb. 6,
at which time the board will be able to go out for quotes on the project.
Town Engineer Mark O’Dell said that it may be necessary to hold a special
meeting to open the quotes in advance of its March meeting, in order to
expedite the process.
aggressive timeline, all external and internal work on the two cars would be
completed in April and the cars brought to site in Thomas Centennial Park;
and they would be connected to utilities early in May and a ADA access ramp
According to an
itemized list of estimated expenses associated with the project, which
O’Dell provided to the board, it will cost $30,000 to refurbish both cars’
exteriors; $10,000 to purchase the ties and rails on which the cars will be
sited; $18,500 in architect’s fees; $35,000 to retrofit the interiors of the
two cars; and $10,00 to build the ADA access ramp.
cost: $158,000, approximately $20,000 more than the modular concrete
restroom just installed in Dogwood Park. The boxcar/caboose project is being
funded through the $2-million bond issued by the board in 2015.
O’Dell noted that
it will cost an additional estimated $43,000 to install site utilities for
the new restroom, including electric and water, but he added that it would
cost that much for any restroom facility, including one of the modular
The board opened
its meeting by unanimously electing Member Paul Shinn president and Member
Candy Tucker vice-president. The board also unanimously re-appointed Hilary
Thomas-Peterson its secretary.