By Bill Piervincenzi
It all started with a simple idea. Town Supervisor Marty Donnelly, operating under the notion that if you don’t ask you won’t receive, approached Wayne Decker and asked him to donate the old Andes train station to the town. Wayne conferred with his family and agreed to donate the station and one acre of land to the town.
The train station was well maintained while Wayne Decker owned it. It was over ninety years old and very solidly built when the town received it. There had been structures added to it but the original building was almost totally intact. The town’s first priority was to stabilize the building to prevent it from weather damage, and to find funding to proceed with restoration.
Marty and I worked feverishly against an impending deadline, to prepare a grant application for money available from the Catskill Watershed Corporation. We optimistically applied for the maximum amount of twenty-five thousand dollars. We were only given five. Although we were disappointed, we used the money to fund a study by an historical architect. The money was well spent. The architect produced a thorough report attesting to the historic value of the building and strongly encouraging its preservation. Armed with this document, we set out to find more funding.
Once again, the Catskill Watershed Corporation came through for us; only this time they allowed us the full twenty-five thousand we asked for. We were excited, but once again an obstacle was presented. In order to seek additional funding, we had to be registered with the State Historic Preservation Office. Marty and I entertained officials from that office twice and then waited. Finally, the depot was listed on the registry.
Immediately the restoration of the roof and other work was put out to bid. Ed Leal was awarded the contract and work was soon under way. The Town of Andes’ train station now has a new roof. Damaged rafter tails that were exposed were re-carved and spliced in place. Footings were stabilized wherever necessary. In addition, all construction that was added to the original building was demolished and removed. We are now ready for the pouring of a new cement platform and restoration of the fluted metal columns that held up the roof over the platform. We also have to build a masonry chimney inside the building so that we can install a potbelly stove. There is much more to do.
While all this was going on, the town managed to acquire Ballantine Park. The town will now be in the position to build a footbridge across the Tremperskill, leading to a terraced timber stairway to the train station. The depot can now be incorporated into the park.
Now that our train station is stabilized, Marty and I are scouring the grant landscape, in order to find additional monies. If any reader has suggestions or needs a charitable deduction, please contact us.
If you wish to see the train station, contact me and I will give you a personal tour. You can see the site of the old turntable, a few hundred feet down the right of way. The cistern that held the water for the tenders is still there.
We encourage anyone with an interest in this project to come forward with ideas for the future. I know there are members of the community with the talent and ability to make this dream a reality. There is something thrilling about railroads that appeals to most of us. I have a vision of a steam locomotive, belching steam like a mythical dragon, on a siding next to the newly restored Andes train station. ~