MURRAY RIVER — To some people it’s a diamond in the rough that should be restored; but for others it’s an eyesore in the dust and should be torn down.
But any hopes to save the old Murray River train station may be falling off the rails as some residents insist any government funding to restore the station would be a complete waste of taxpayer’s dollars.
“Not one person I have spoken with has expressed a desire or interest in seeing tax payer’s dollars wasted on that old station,” contends resident Wayne Burke who lives next door. “Tear it down is what they’ve all said.”
A retired RCMP officer, Burke penned that sentiment in a letter to The Guardian and others in effort to bring public attention to the attempts by the village council, and chairman Garnet Buell, to save the building.
“The village wants to restore it and make it a tourist attraction,” Buell told the media. “There’s not too many of these stations left.”
The P.E.I. Transportation Department was going to tear down the 100 plus year old station as part of a plan to widen the Main Street here. However, council got a reprieve and the station was removed from the tender block which included tearing down three other buildings, including the former IGA store in the heart of the community.
However, Burke insists the train station, buried in trees, caving in, and home to rats, will cost inestimable dollars both for the village residents and Island taxpayers. Buell said he hoped to move the station to a nearby site this month but there has been no change. The station can’t be seen from the main road, but is tucked away behind the abandoned IGA store.
“I’m afraid Mr. Buell wants to save it because he used to work there in the 1950s, but it’s too far gone and it’s filled with rats,” he said. “I doubt you could even move it without it all falling down.”
Many Island communities have attempted to save former train stations and many have simply built replicas because of the condition and costs of restoration. The last train to run on P.E.I. was 30 years ago.
Burke, representing residents who support the demolition, has now requested the station be bulldozed as planned in a letter to the Premier, Minister of Transportation and other officials. The removal of all four buildings is expected to be underway at any time.
Exterminators have attempted to eliminate the rat problem associated with the cluster of abandoned buildings, but Burke says the effort simply drove them to his barn which is home to piles of rat feces. He also points out the tender for building removal includes the reclamation of an industrial septic system adjoining the building sites.
“I’ve discussed this topic with in excess of 100 residents here in the village over the past few months, and they don’t see the value and say it’s a huge eye sore in one of the prettiest communities there is,” said Burke.
The Guardian attempted to discuss the merits of the train station heritage with the head of the Museum and Heritage Foundation, but Dr. David Keenlyside was unavailable.