A local train museum is the latest tenant to move out as a result of the city of Pasco’s plans for a new railroad overpass on Lewis Street.
In a notice to members, Tom Gronewald, president of the Washington State Railroads Historical Society, said artifacts have been moved out of the group’s museum at 122 N. Tacoma Ave. into a secure location until it can find a new location to build or rent.
“We are still working with the city of Pasco to find that location,” Gronewald said. “It sounds like the city is committed to keep us in Pasco, and is working to find the society a new location for the museum.”
Those artifacts are in addition to the trains the society is storing for future museum use at the Port of Pasco.
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The city bought about two dozen buildings near where the current Lewis Street railroad underpass is located. Most of the tenants have moved to other locations. The city gave a year lease extension to the train museum, but it had to move out when the lease expired, said Assistant City Manager Stan Strebel.
Now, the only buildings that are still occupied are the St. Vincent De Paul food bank at 115 W. Lewis St. and the Tri-City Union Gospel Mission, 112 N. Second Ave.., which can stay until next spring.
While building the overpass crossing the railroad tracks is still years away, Strebel said clearing right of way is important in the certification process to allow the project to receive federal funds to help with
$27.2 million in construction costs. The city will also have to find an estimated $1.7 million for demolition, which it hopes to start later this year. Another $6.3 million for engineering, permitting and property acquisition has already been spent.
The city is required to help the property owners that are moving out find a new location and pay their moving expenses, Strebel said.
“The process is very complicated,” he said.
In his notice, Gronewald said his group could lease from the city as part of a historical district Pasco is working to create, or try to find someone to donate the land for a new location.
Gronewald did not return calls requesting comment for this story.
City manager Gary Crutchfield said the city has hired a consultant to develop a long-term historic preservation plan.
“They’ll probably address that in those plans,” he said of the museum.
Councilman Al Yenney, whose district includes the future overpass site, said timing is critical in finding a site for the museum.
“We need to really generate some interest in the museum,” he said. “A lot of those people are getting up there in age.”
-- Geoff Folsom: 509-582-1543; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @GeoffFolsom