CARTHAGE — Once a thriving depot for New York Central Railroad, the former station on North Mechanic Street has fallen into disrepair and caused a state of emergency.
The more than 100-year-old structure through which travelers passed en route to destinations nationwide in the early 1900s literally began falling into the street causing village officials to take action.
“Part of the facade and the roof fell into the street,” said village president G. Wayne McIlroy.
The village issued a local state of emergency proclamation for the period of July 24-28 to allow the Department of Public Works to take action to ensure public safety. The lane of travel toward the depot has been cordoned off.
Following inspection, village code enforcement officer Reginald Huber condemned the building at 214 N. Mechanic St. noting it was “unfit for human occupancy” in accordance with the state fire code.
The village contracted GYMO, Architecture, Engineering & Land Surveying of Watertown to further inspect the building.
According to its report, “there are significant issues with the existing roof that have compromised its structural integrity.”
The report noted the street side wall appears to be intact, but the opposite side had “foundation, framing and structure issues that would require further investigation.”
GYMO recommended the street side fascia and gutter system be removed and the roof repaired or replaced.
Railstarusa LLC of Cape Vincent purchased the depot in August 2020 from Mohawk Adirondack Northern. Ronald J. Trottier of Railstarusa said he has hired a contractor to “sever the overhang” and assess the “support problems.”
“I’ve been through it with contractors — it’s a mess inside, but not a lot of structure work is needed,” he said of assessing the building since purchasing it last year and prior to the current state of emergency. “The roof needs an overhaul.”
He noted that with the pandemic he is a year behind in upgrading the building, which he plans to use as a hub for tourism opportunities.
Mr. Trottier, having operated tourist train lines in Maine, Colorado and Florida, hopes to develop a local scenic railway similar to the Adirondack Scenic Railroad in the Saranac Lake area. Mr. Trottier, owner of River Marine Inc., Cape Vincent, also owns the railway yard in Lowville. He plans to lease the railway lines between the two villages and utilize them for tourist trains and rail bikes — pedal-powered vehicles that ride on railroad tracks. He also has plans to develop boating opportunities on the Black River from the Carthage depot and possibly bicycling.
Working with town of Wilna community development director Sarah Bullock, Mr. Trottier has obtained a Main Street Technical Assistant Grant for $15,000 to conduct a feasibility study on the building. The study will include a marketing and structural analysis to explore if the development is feasible and, if so, what potential reuses of the property are recommended. According to Mrs. Bullock once a consultant is hired the study would take about six months to complete.
Mr. McIlroy said the village board will discuss at its Aug. 16 meeting how to proceed with the code enforcement situation.
“I would like to see it restored to the original way it looked years ago, but we can’t wait for years, with the safety issues,” said Mr. McIlroy of the train depot.