Community Foundation seeks Union Pacific property

Group wants blessing of public, Moffat County commissioners

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The Community Foundation of Northwest Colorado hoped to get the blessing of the Moffat County commissioners in its attempt to acquire the defunct Union Pacific Railroad depot.

But the meeting between the commissioners and community foundation ended with no resolution Tuesday.

Union Pacific has promised to donate the building and property to the community foundation, said Patt McCaffrey, community foundation member.

But the commissioners also have received a request from Lou Wyman, owner of the Living History Ranch, for support in his efforts to acquire the depot. Wyman said the railroad also is willing to give him the building.

Wyman would move the depot to his ranch east of Craig, where he is developing a museum of historical artifacts. Items there include the Pagoda General Store, which he has renovated.

But members of the community foundation insist Wyman's intentions to move the building will destroy its historical value. Community Foundation members say they would renovate the building at its current location. They don't know what would be housed inside the depot, but said the business would be self-sufficient.

The commissioners repeatedly questioned the foundation's financial status, asking how they would fund a renovation of the building, which is substantially deteriorated.

"If we write a letter of support, do we have financial capability to restore it and make something of it rather than just have another historical building that's just sitting there and doesn't add anything to the community?" Commissioner Darryl Steele asked.

McCaffrey, said several service organizations have promised funds, and they are just waiting for the acquisition to be finalized.

She estimated the promised funds at $10,000.

There are a variety of grants available for this type of project, but the community foundation can't apply for the grants until they acquire the building, McCaffrey said.

Commissioner Les Hampton said he would call Union Pacific after hearing stories that the company had liability issues with the depot remaining where it is. He is still waiting to hear back from them.

Commissioner Marianna Raftopoulos had reservations about the development potential of the depot's current location between Yampa Avenue and Breeze Street.

Relations between the commissioners and the community foundation have been poor since a deal to purchase the Cowboy and Gunfighter Collection for the Museum of Northwest Colorado turned sour.

The commissioners covered the bill for the gunfighter collection, and the community foundation promised to repay it through deferred giving, donations that will be payable upon the death of the donor.

Four years after making the agreement, the county hasn't received a any deferred gifts.

The commissioners said they would contact McCaffrey after making a decision.

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