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Fort Madison Clearing Way for Amtrak

Fort Madison continues to clear the way for Amtrak to move its operations across town to the former Santa Fe Depot in Riverview Park.

The North Lee County Historical Society has a lease in place, through 2040, that allows it to use the complex for display and storage.

That agreement has now been amended.

City Manager Byron Smith says the historical society has agreed to relinquish the eastern 2/3 of the main building.  He says the organization will also make more space available if requested by Amtrak in the future.

Smith says Fort Madison and Amtrak are still in negotiations to move passenger rail service downtown, possibly early next year.

He says the interior renovations to the depot are nearly complete, with the final step being the construction of an elevated rail platform.

The North Lee County Historical Society will retain the western 1/3 of the main building and be allowed to continue using a neighboring building.


Meanwhile, the depot will soon carry a special name.

The Fort Madison City Council has agreed to call the complex the Steven J. Ireland Depot.

Ireland, 53, was in his 4th term as mayor when he died last March.

City Manager Byron Smith says the recent improvements to the depot would not have been possible without Ireland.

“He was a major driver,” says Smith, “he was instrumental in securing a lot of the grants and just worked to get the project done.”

A plaque honoring Ireland will also be placed inside the depot.


A recent report by Iowa State Auditor David Vaudt revealed the Lee County Narcotics Task Force is carrying a $90,000 deficit.

He linked the deficit to decreasing grant revenue and increased overtime costs.

His recommendation is for the three active members, Keokuk, Fort Madison and Lee County to make up the difference.

The Fort Madison City Council has agreed to pay Keokuk $30,000 to cover the city’s share of the deficit.


The city council has also approved the second reading of a proposal to rezone the site of the future sports complex from residential to commercial use.

City Manager Byron Smith says the rezoning is required if alcohol is to be sold at the complex.

There has been talk of an on-site restaurant.

Jason Parrott is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.