Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Midway is about to become even more of a railroad town, as the permanent home of a steam engine

By Aayat Ali
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

The R.J. Corman Railroad Group has received a grant to house the “Old Smokey” steam engine in the Midway Historic District where citizens and visitors can see it and the Corman caboose already in the city, the Midway City Council heard Monday night.

CSX Railroad owns the track that runs through Midway, so a building to house the engine and caboose would have to be built off CSX property to avoid issues with CSX, Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said.

The plan is to put the engine on the United Bank lot where the caboose already resides.  “We still have to get approval from the bank,” Vandegrift said.

Vandegrift said the engine itself doesn’t qualify for the historic-oriented grant because it was built in 1987, but a building in the Midway Historic District does qualify.

Vandegrift revealed that the state Transportation Cabinet has approved a grant of $193,000 to help build the facility, with a total cost of about $241,000, all covered by Corman. 

Corman barn in Lexington, before large steeples were added to it
Vandegrift said the building would be a smaller version of the one in Lexington that has housed Corman’s dinner train to Versailles, which recently stopped running.

The main issues are how the engine will be placed in the 125-foot-long building and where it will be built.

Vandegrift said the project is a great opportunity for Midway, the first town in Kentucky to be established by a railroad, which was the state’s first rail line. That was in 1833; the city was incorporated in 1846.

Coolmore America buying Waterford Farm, getting city water

The council approved running a water line outside the city limits to Waterford Farm, which is being bought by Ashford Stud, a division of Coolmore America, whose Versailles Road farm is home to Triple Crown winner American Pharoah.

The 720-acre farm is just outside the city limits on Weisenberger Mill Road, next to The Homeplace at Midway, a new senior-living community.

The main concern among council members was howa break in the water line might affect the water pressure at The HomePlace, for which fire suppression is critical.

First-term Council Member Libby Warfield asked if the line would be “detrimental to The HomePlace” and whether other farms outside the city limits get city water.

Vandegrift said there are such farms, and Water Superintendent Mark Roberts said a pressure problem is unlikely. He said The Homeplace’s lines would be cleaner because it would no longer be at the end of a line.  In case of a major break, Roberts and Vandegrift said, the farm line could be turned off at the new meter or the town’s water tank could be filled.

They said the city would require a backflow preventer on the line to keep solids from flowing into the city’s water in case of a break in the city system, which could siphon non-potable water from the farm.

Waterford Farm would be responsible for paying all expenses and meeting the city’s specifications, Roberts said.

In other business, the council declared the old fire truck and the fire department’s old van to be surplus, allowing them to be put up for bid. Vandegrift said the equipment is “just taking up space.”

The council also discussed the city’s plan to use $16,384 remaining from a community development block grant funds to build a new Habitat for Humanity home at 209 E. Stephens St. The topic was tabled after Council Member Dan Roller found an apparent discrepancy in the documentation.

Vandegrift wrapped the meeting up by thanking Deputy Emergency Management Director Drew Chandler for his help in preparing Midway for the snowstorm a few weeks ago. 

“They sent me updates days ahead,” he said, adding later, ”They even put on snow boots and walked through eight inches of snow though my yard to let me sign the emergency declaration.”

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