Citizens weep over loss of historic train depot - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Citizens weep over loss of historic train depot

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MT. PLEASANT, TX (KLTV) -

An East Texas community is upset after the demolition of one of their historic buildings.

The Mount Pleasant Railroad Depot is located off of North Washington Avenue and is believed to have been built in the 1920s.

Many Mount Pleasant residents said they have fond memories of the building.

"They remember their parents riding it, they remember riding it themselves, they remember people going off to war boarding at this train and there's a lot of history," said Ginger Shaffer, President of the Titus County Historical Preservation Society.

She is referring to people like Diana Kennedy who were born and raised in Mount Pleasant and still lives there to this day.

"When the last passenger train was going to come through Mount Pleasant, well, my aunt and uncle came up here and rode the train with me; I was about six. I was always so proud of getting to be on the last passenger train that drove through Mount Pleasant. You look at it now. I don't even understand why somebody couldn't have done something to save it," a tearful Kennedy said.

Union Pacific, who owns the depot, said the building has been vacant for several years following an assessment.

"An assessment of the building showed that there were environmental concerns including structural problems and asbestos," said Raquel Espinoza, Director of Corporate Relations and Media at Union Pacific Railroad.

She said the company communicated the safety concerns years ago with Mount Pleasant's city management.
    
"They indicated it was too expensive to remediate and restore the building," Espinoza explained.

However, according to Mount Pleasant City Manager Mike Ahrens, there must have been a miscommunication.

"We were told in those main inquiries that they were not yet done with it, that they were using it for storage and different reasons, and it was not free to be given to us at that time and they would let us know when that opportunity came up," Ahrens explained.

Espinoza said it is possible the people who had those conversations are no longer with the company, which would explain the confusion.

"We've had turnover from our side and from the city's side. So, it was not the intention to upset the community at all. If anything we just wanted to make sure that we addressed these safety concerns," she said.

However, now that the building is gone, there really is not much anyone can do.

"My tears are not so much that I'm sad as I am just mad and I don't know who to be mad at," Kennedy said.

Ahrens said there is an organization in Mount Pleasant that is working to have a historic overlay district that will eventually come down on top of the existing zoning and help the city control some of the historic buildings and hopefully, prevent their demolition.

Union Pacific said they have no plans to rebuild in that location at this time.

Copyright 2013 KLTV. All rights reserved.

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