Aberdeen B&O Railroad Station Food Park

In 1885, the B&O (Baltimore and Ohio) Railroad company built a train station, in the city of Aberdeen. It continued operations until 1958, when the station stopped serving passengers, and has since fallen into disrepair. Currently, there is nothing on the lot, besides the train station, (which the general public cannot enter) and a closed food stand. Therefore, isn’t any incentive for the local people to go to the park.

In 2014, for safety reasons, the station had to be moved from its original foundation to 50 feet back away from the tracks. This move had cost between $50,000 and $80,000, but there has not been any significant renovations or repairs since then. City officials, historic preservation societies, state representatives, and local citizens have been debating about what to do with the station. One proposition is to move the station to a different park and repair it, in order to gain tourism. However, there are several issues including budget constraints, approval from the historical preservation society, and the question of whether or not it would survive another move.

My hope is that a decision will be made about what to do with the building, so that any plans about what to do with the space can move forward. If the structure were to remain on the lot, it would have to be renovated and repaired for safety reasons, before anything else were to happen to the park itself. A repaired station, could draw in more attention than a regular park. If the structure is moved, the park improvements could begin immediately afterwards. Whichever direction the city chooses, the plan will cost a significant amount of money.  Whether or not the building will remain on the premises, I would like the station to be repaired, a mid-sized playground and benches to be placed on the lot, the food stand to reopen and landscaping.

There are several issues about the park that will impact the surrounding area, besides financial constraints. A large number of people would like to see improvements to the area, but others are content with how the park is currently. Also, the park improvements could potentially increase property values, which could drive residents out of their homes. Regardless of whether or not the structure is moved, either direction will be expensive to the city.

That being said, I believe that there is potential use for the area, which is not being implemented.  The location of the existing park is very good, since it is within walking distance of several local stores, neighborhoods, and the high school. However, most people do not stop at the park when traversing between the areas. Changes to the park should not be massive, since it is a small park and the surrounding area is unlikely to grow exponentially. It would not be sustainable for the city to design the park to be able to hold 400 people, when the surrounding area is unlikely to grow that large.

I do not personally live in the city, so I would not be as directly impacted as the denizens.  Before any changes are made, I would like there to be surveys from the locals about what they think should be done with the park. After this step, a plan and budget should be drawn up, and be put forward in city public council meetings, where citizens and city officials can discuss it. Social media pages and websites could also be implemented, in order to obtain more citizen opinions.  Funding could be raised by asking for donations from businesses or from tax money. Businesses could assist in funding the park, and in exchange the park could have signs, benches, or bricks (or a combination of the three) advertising them.  They could also donate building or landscape materials for the park.

Whichever path the city decides to do with the structure, the park needs improvements if the city wants it to remain a park. A decision with regards to the train station needs to be made, and Aberdeen officials need to hear citizen input about the park. An open line of communication needs to be established between all parties involved in order to negotiate and improve the park.

 

 

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