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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Plans for the Depot

Depot plans still unclear

by Emily Canning-Dean


Bedford -- Since last summer, the area where a gray vinyl-sided storage building used to sit across from Southeast Suburban Branch Post Office has been a pile of gravel, but city officials are hoping to eventually put the land to good use.

The building, which city officials said was in disrepair, once was Bedford's first railroad depot and was built in 1852. However, few of the historic parts of the building remained and it was torn down last summer because upgrading it would have been too expensive, officials said.

The building should not be confused with the 1882 railroad depot, which still exists on the west side of the Commons.

Some ideas were proposed over what to do with the space, but nothing was decided.

"I need to talk to Council and kick around some ideas," said City Manager Bob Reid. "I'm thinking that right now we could just pave the area and use it for parking until we find something else to do with it. Right now it's just gravel. We need to do something with it."

Reid said he expects the area would offer a paved lot with 15 to 20 parking spaces which could be used to accommodate vehicles during weekend festivals in the summer and parties in the park on Wednesday evenings.

Eventually, Reid said he would like to see something else done with the space. He has suggested that the city install a skating rink/wading fountain on the site.

"I just think it would be a nice addition to the area," he said. "People could skate in the winter and then we would have a pond or fountain in the summer."

Opinions vary among city officials.

Ward 6 Councilor Don Saunders said he doesn't see a need to construct anything on the site.

"I would just like to see it become part of the Square," he said. "It would be nice to have a hard surface where we could put kiddie rides. I've heard some people have concerns about the rides on the grass areas because it damages the grass."

Mayor Dan Pocek said he thinks paving the area might be the best action taken now, but he would like to see something else done with it in the future.

"I would eventually like to see us open the site up to commercial use," Pocek said. "I also think we need to set up something on the site noting the historical significance of the old depot."

Bedford Historical Society Director Janet Caldwell said the historical society has no immediate plans to set up a historical marker.

"It's not up to us because the city owns the property," she said. "But if the city requests, we could arrange for some sort of plaque."

Reid said he will consult Council members about their wishes for the site within the next few months.


I think this brings up a good question. This is a plot of land which the city now has, but it is an awkward size and many great ideas to be discussed.

Parking is one issue that could be crippling our downtown businesses. The Romitos building was a prime spot where parking is concerned, and now it seems to be sold to an up and coming restaurant. So I can see a parking lot as a quick fix.

I am an advocate of Mr. Reid's ice rink plan. It would be nice to have a skating rink during the winter. Perhaps even large enough for a junior hockey league during our winter season. But the skating will absolutely bring people downtown during the winter months. Being close to Arabica, a restaurant, a hobby shop, and a music shop can only give our young residents and the businesses along Broadway something to look forward to.

Mayor Pocek is a history buff and I too would like to see something to commemorate the history of the location. I do, however, disagree with the idea of turning it into commercial land at this time. I might not know something that the mayor knows, but we need to focus on building the downtown area and filling the vacant stores before we expand it. The zoning committee will have to be on their toes in the next few months.

Mr. Saunders has his concerns that the land should be used for expanding the square and becoming a place where the kiddies rides can be put, to save the grass. Now, I find this to be a smart idea, but I don't know the true impact on the grass due to the rides.

I find this article to be thought provoking because it brings light to one piece of land that has wonderful location to our downtown district and then highlights the city's different opinions. Something will be done to this land and I am excited to see what will.

I would like to ask the question of "what you, the reader, would like to see the land be used for?"


Blogger King said...

Well this is obviously old and outdated news here in Bedford.

It seems the author of this post is unaware of the historical significance the depot once played in Bedford. He has also not took the time to research the property on which the depot sits.

The depot stood as a place our Bedford residents were sent off and returned from war, and was visited by Lincoln to name a few examples. Not to mention how Bedford residents stopped the train once in attempts to save a runaway slave being sent back to her owners.

The historical value of this building was hotly debated for quite some time. I understand the historical society wanted to keep or try to buy the building, but are barely able to pay for the buildings they have now.

I feel the Mayor and Councilman Saunders have the right idea for now. It should be paved and incorporated into the square. This would also be consistent with the intended use of the property.

The Mayor's, I am sure with only the best intentions, states possibly a business could go there in the future. This would create a further strain on parking for our current downtown businesses. They were already victimized by losing street parking because of the streetscape project.

Bedford School Board member, Andrew C. M. Mizsak M.A.P. correctly pointed out that placing an Elmer Flick Statue on the square would take away from the solemnity of the Veteran Memorials we have on the square.

Had the author done his homework, he would know there are deed restrictions on the property that forbid that type of use.

When Hezekiah Dunham, one of the original Bedford settlers, gave the property to the city it was specifically to be used ONLY as a common type area for Bedford residents. The Historical Society has a copy of the original deed showing these restrictions.

Councilman Saunders has the best idea of incorporating the space into the square to be used for parking and extra space for all the wonderful festivals we have during the summer. Note - they will be starting again soon!

Our City Manager had a very nice presentation and drawing on a proposed ice skating rink. But what use would we get out of it in the summer?

While being short sighted, an ice skating rink would be nice, if it were in Chagrin Falls, NOT Bedford!

11:01 AM  
Blogger King said...

I need to clarify -

The property on which the Depot sat was owned by H. Dunham. Dunham placed deed restrictions on the property, more or less, limiting it's use to only the residents of Bedford.

Franklin Oil came into possession of the property (nobody is sure how) and eventually sold it the city for approx. $62,000. At the time of the purchase, our city was unaware of any deed restrictions.

I am quite confident knowing how the city supports the community groups, the area will be cleaned up and repaved in time for the upcoming festival season.

11:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Skating Rink? You must be kidding!

11:06 PM  
Blogger Truth in Bedford said...

Okay King, you got me, I didn't do the sufficient research! I didn't know their was a deed in the historical society. I have visited the buildings only on school field trips and on hot summer nights so I might have skipped over reading these documents.

I simply took the responses from council and the city managers as the possible outcomes to the land.

That building that was torn down, in my research was in disrepair, and had only a few of the historical parts. The rail road is absolutely significant to Bedford's history and I will never argue otherwise, but this building (as far as I know) did not entertain Lincoln and did not aid the residents in saving the runaway slave.

Knowing what I know now about the lot, I would have to agree with you in saying that it should be paved, but not for Councilman Saunders' reasons. I do not feel that it should be used to house kiddie rides. Thats my opinion.

The ice rink that I saw, and probably the City Manager saw, was just something during the winter. During the fall and early spring seasons Bedford used to put up a street hockey arena in the Bedford Pool parking lot. It was something to that effect. It would be nice for whatever city you lived in. Then over the summer and fall seasons it could be used as an extension of the square.

I do agree, as you may have misread, that I too would like to see some sort of a historical reminder of the building. And now that you have brought some of the missing information from that Bedford Times Register article I agree that it should be paved without an ice rink.

I posted this article as well as a small discussion starter only a few weeks after the article was published, I don't know if that qualifies for "out of date" news. To me, it still looks as if nothing has been decided and thought it would be an interesting debate as each councilperson has a different idea as does the City Manager.

Thank you for taking the time to fill in the history of the building, including the technicalities of the deed. I do have a question though, that I am a little bit curious about... Perhaps you can fill me in on this as well:

I do not see why the ice rink would be unsuccessful for Bedford, but not Chagrin Falls?

I've already stated in discussions that I don't think Bedford should be like Chagrin Falls, but I think Bedford should try successful ideas from any city.

3:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, I too would like to know what you meant by this...

"an ice skating rink would be nice, if it were in Chagrin Falls, NOT Bedford! "

12:21 AM  
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7:32 AM  
Blogger eva said...

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think the ice rink will be a good thing for bedford also even a good scenery inn the summer would attract alot more bisness also give the kids something todo kids are always complaining theres nothing to do in bedford

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