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Plan Breathes Life into Old Station

The eastbound train station in Saugatuck is getting an overhaul. Pat DelBello thinks it's well past time. "It's digusting!" she said, inside the waiting area at the station. "This is Westport?"

Dust covered the window sills, the bathroom didn't work and the posted train schedule was 11-years old.  The underutilized building is on the July 13 Historic District Commission agenda where Building Official Stephen Smith will present plans to put new life into an old piece of property.

“We want to give a facelift to the building and clean it up," said Smith.  "It's quite a mess right now,”

He said few people even realize there is a waiting room inside the station and only notice the taxi services that run out of it.

Built in the 1850s, the station requires some review by the Historic District Commission before any major changes can be made. Carol Leahy, HDC administrator, said the building is not designated as historic but age and history do put it under their review.

Plans for the station would do more than simply add a new coat of paint. Smith said they would like to add in some merchant kiosks, solar panels and charging stations for electric cars. Vendors needing something more traditional space wise would be able to rent offices in the 80' by 20' building. Currently the station houses Teddies Taxi and Lili's Coffee Shop.

Smith said one of the major reasons the station is so underutilized is because years ago the train platform was raised.

“You used to have to wait on the ground and when the train came you would step up into it," said Smith.  "When they raised the platform to the train's level, they put a small structure on it where people could wait out of the bad weather. They never raised this building though,”

Another renovation project is underway through the state for the westbound station that is entirely separate from this proposal.

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