OXFORD — The city lost its train stop in 1994, but since 2014, Oxford’s Amtrak Committee has been seeking to bring a stop back to Oxford.
The committee attended a city work session on Tuesday, Dec. 20, to discuss where the plans for the Amtrak stop are and what the committee needs from the city. The committee is requesting the city council pass a resolution of support for the station.
The committee’s goal is “To bring an Amtrak stop to the Oxford & Miami communities, at the soonest time possible, at the best location available, at the most affordable cost possible.”
Amtrak’s Cardinal Line already passes through Oxford on CSX’s tracks; all Amtrak would have to do is stop the train. Before they agree to that, they have to be sure of Oxford’s commitment to building the stop.
In January 2015, a joint letter from Miami University and Oxford was sent to Amtrak requesting a stop. In May 2015, Amtrak sent a letter back “green lighting” the concept.
Amtrak requested additional information in order to move forward with the project. They wanted additional information, including site and station location and identification, site ownership, Amtrak station management, and the funding source for the platform construction.
Since receiving the letter from Amtrak officials, the committee has been working on obtaining the information to move forward.
There were several locations considered for a stop but in December 2015, Amtrak officials visited the two potential platform locations and gave their opinions. It was decided a location on Chestnut Street would be the best option. It was important to the committee to choose a location they did not have to purchase. This location is owned by Talawanda Schools, with rumors of Miami University purchasing it, according to city officials. The location would provide an area for bathrooms and parking.
After identifying the site, it was time to estimate the development costs. The committee looked at stations other cities built and Miami University did an estimate. Included in the estimate was the cost of purchasing and demolishing the structure at the Chestnut Street site, constructing a 300-foot long by 10-foot wide train platform, constructing an open air canopy or shelter, constructing a 40-space parking lot, and installing access sidewalks.
However, city officials chose not to demolish the current structure and not to construct a parking lot. This brings the estimate to a low of $1,063,750 and a high of $1,290,625.
Having come this far in answering Amtrak’s questions, the committee is now requesting two things: The City of Oxford and Miami University “to put into writing their level of commitment to the project,” and to have current, and potential future, site owners write “a letter of commitment to allow, at minimum, an easement for access to the proposed station and an additional easement along the railroad for the platform and shelter.”
Specifically, the committee is asking if Oxford is committed to being an active participant in the development of an Amtrak station, if they will provide up to $350,000 in funding, and if the city would be willing to participate in the platform management and operations. A resolution from city council stating such would show Amtrak the city’s commitment to the project.
The joint Miami and Oxford committee consists of Miami University Director of Institutional Relations Randi Thomas, City of Oxford Economic Development Alan Kyger, Oxford Planning Chair and Miami Professor of Geography David Prytherch, retired Amtrak official Lee Fisher, retired OKI Official Rick Bailey, Talawanda School District Treasurer and CFO Mike Davis, and Miami Student and ASG Senator Kyle Mortimer.
Many people have helped the committee as needed, according to Kyger, including: Miami Associate VP Cody Powell, Miami University Dean and University Librarian Jerome Conley, City of Oxford Planner Sam Perry, Mayor Kate Rousmaniere, City of Oxford Community Development Director Jung-Han Chen, Service Director Mike Dreisbach, and Cincinnati Director of All Aboard Ohio Derek Bauman.
The resolution in support of the Amtrak project is expected be read at Oxford’s Tuesday, Jan. 17, meeting.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH