Many of you have been wondering what's been going on regarding the effort to save the Depot from demolition. The Miles City Depot Acquisition and Restoration Project is making headway towards the goal of returning the Depot to the beautiful building it once was and can be again.
The US Environmental Protection Agency has approved our request to provide the environmental assessment of the property without any cost to the local community (that's easily a $15,000 value folks - probably more).
And, we have applied to the National Trust for Historic Preservation for a grant that will pay half of the cost of performing a structural engineering assessment. We have a bid in from a very well respected Montana-based engineering firm (Beaudette Consulting Engineers) for $5,000. (More on this later.)
Both of these assessments are necessary to answer the question that is on everyone's mind: How much will it cost to get the Depot back in shape? Early indications are very favorable that those costs will be on the low end. We know that the pigeon droppings in the Depot need to be dealt with as a hazardous material and we expect lead-based paint to be present as well - but BNSF has already removed asbestos-containing materials from the Depot, so that's a significant advantage.
And anyone who has walked around the outside of the building can easily see that the structure is solid - there are virtually no cracks in the concrete foundation or the brick walls. The roof shingles are seriously deteriorated as are several areas of the eaves, but miraculously very little water has intruded to the building's interior. The ceilings, walls and woodwork inside are remarkably well preserved.
Now, I know the other big question out there is WHAT WILL THE DEPOT BE USED FOR IN THE FUTURE? And the answer to that one is this: "Your ideas are as good as anyone else's." A restaurant, a community center, a brewery, a culinary institute, a museum, etc. - we've heard a bunch of ideas. The final cut will come down to what idea makes the most financial sense, because in the end the Depot will HAVE to support itself. And a big part of determining what it will take to support itself is in the answer to the first question: How much will it cost to restore the Depot building?
Which brings us back to the structural assessment and the $2,500. (see, I told you I'd get back to that topic!) Before the Depot can support itself, it's going to need a little support from us from time to time. Now is one of those times.
We have some pledges in hand from the Custer County Historical Society and other preservation supporters - but we haven't reached the $2,500 mark yet. So, we could use support from anyone who would like to help return the Depot to its former glory and let it continue to play a role in Miles City's future, just as it helped shaped Miles City's past.
So, if you would like to help keep this project "on track", please send your donation (check or money order - no cash, please) in whatever amount you would like to the
[c]CUSTER COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY
Donations may be mailed to:
Custer County Historical Society
c/o Miles City Preservation Commission
P.O. Box 910
Miles City, MT 59301
The Custer County Historical Society is a tax-exempt organization registered in accordance with 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, Tax ID Number 23-7230813