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Fundraising Underway for Burlington Depot Improvements

A fundraising effort is underway to raise up to $120,000 to renovate the Burlington depot so it can host large events

Don Traman was glad to see so many people visit Burlington's downtown train depot during a recent open house. The idea behind the event was to showcase plans to renovate the 72-year-old building.

Traman, who chairs the non-profit group Friends of the Depot is quick to admit he would have liked to have seen more of the people who attended the event leave behind signed checks or dollar bills.

"We had a number of local people in, but not so many of the people who had money that could have helped us," said Traman.

Burlington received a $480,000 grant from the Iowa Department of Transportation to help pay for improvements to the depot. On top of that, the city is kicking in $120,000 as the local match.

Traman said that money can only be used for "transportation needs," specifically the portions of the depot used by Amtrak and the local bus service.

Friends of the Depot would like to see additional improvements done that would allow for the facility to be used as a banquet hall, complete with a restaurant. To do that, it needs to raise another $120,000.

"In order to make full use of the 'Great Room,' we need to put in a sprinkler system and put in additional heating/cooling and repair the other half of the roof that is not covered by the grant," said Traman.

Traman said there is no official timeline in place to raise the money needed to open the 'Great Room.'

Bids, though, are due in January for the state/city-funded portion of the work, with the grant calling for completion by the end of the year.

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