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CSX donates boxcar for parking lot project

This boxcar will be part of the parking lot enhancement project.

News Staff Writer

Not all of the i’s have yet been dotted nor all the t’s yet crossed but plans to make the proposed Trammell Street parking lot a more user-friendly venue are in high gear.
Plans announced at recent city council meetings are for a 38-space parking area at the corner of Trammell and Ridgeley streets, property for which the city paid $60,000.
Main Street Atmore Executive Director Niki Bryan noted that the project is still in its infancy but said the planned interactive aspects will make the site more than just a place to park vehicles.
“The project is still in its beginning stages, but what it has revealed so far is an opportunity for an interactive space that brings people together and activates spaces with public use elements, such as seating areas or tables,” Bryan said. “We’re still working through the details; there are several working parts that have to come together for it to work. It’s strumming along, and I’m very positive that it will come together.”
Jerry Gehman, chairman of Atmore’s Smart Growth Committee and a railroad enthusiast, said he feels the boxcar is a fitting replacement for the original plan of a farmers’ market at the parking lot, which would have made the city project eligible for United State Department of Agriculture funding.
“What we had planned for, through Smart Growth, was to build a farmers’ market on the corner of Trammell and Ridgeley,” Gehman explained. “Our primary goal was to create parking capability, which we have done, but the USDA funding did not come through.
“I’m very disappointed that it never materialized. The money we had raised for this new parking lot-farmers’ market has now gone to other activities, primarily Pride of Atmore.”
Gehman, who said he had received a letter of commitment from CSX for the rail car, pointed out that another problem, one he doesn’t mind, has cropped up.
“We’ve got the boxcar; now we’re working on other details,” he said. “Where are we going to put this boxcar? I can guarantee that it’s going to happen, but I’m going to have to figure out where to park it until the parking lot is finished.”
City of Atmore officials have reportedly let bids on the project and hope to have it completed at some point from mid-October to mid-November.