ENM Train Depot preservation still on hold

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The East New Market train station awaits its transformation.

EAST NEW MARKET — A mystery surrounded the whereabouts of a promised $40,000 to restore the Depot train station that now resides in a field near the outskirts of East New Market. In 1869, the Dorchester and Delaware Railroad completed a line from Cambridge to East New Market, which later ran to the Delaware state line. The little depot was probably built around 1869-70.
When railroads once went everywhere, these stations dotted the landscape throughout the country. Some grew to enormous, ornate structures like Grand Central Station in New York. Most on the Eastern Shore were tiny buildings that housed stationmasters and benches for waiting passengers.  Small towns, eager to preserve their unique heritage, are continuing to preserve and restore these gems. East New Market is one such town.
At a Nov. 11 meeting, Mayor Caroline Cline updated Commissioners on progress of the depot’s restoration. She noted that over eight years ago East New Market paid $1 to the state for the old depot that was then located on Rt. 14 near Richardson Road. The town accepted the depot from the state with a promise from the State Highway Administration (SHA) of $40,000 for rehabilitation, and moved to its current location. Ms. Cline said the town accepted the gift “in good faith.” She said the council at that time would not have accepted it without the offer of funds because the town could not afford to even start to weatherize it.

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The East New Market train station as it looked in 1909.

She said when the time came to begin the restoration the $40,000 had disappeared. No one from the state could answer where or why it went. Ms. Cline said, “We spent a fair amount of time trying to find out why we were promised the money and where it went. Presumably into one of those black holes.”
When a state highway representative met with the commission they promised to retrieve the money from “wherever it went.” But town officials had their doubts since no one in state government knew anything about it. The Mayor explained that “several months ago we had the good news that the money had reappeared.” No one has explained how or why.
And suddenly there were more unforeseen complications. Now the money was available. But the MD Historical Trust (MHT) told the town that the survey on the easement they hold was incorrect. “I cannot begin to explain why, but that set off a whole new chain of events because MHT does have the easement. We had to go through the rigmarole of having a re-survey done and I don’t understand why.”

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Once restored like the Hurlock station, these small depots make major additions to a town’s heritage.

The town finds itself in the unenviable position of dealing with three agencies and a history of contradictory information. The three agencies include: SHA, MHT, and the Maryland Heritage Area Authority. “It is such a mass of confusion,” said Mayor Cline, “that I have asked Valerie Mann, who specializes in straightening out convoluted things, for help. She is taking on the chore of finding out what sort of interaction has to take place between these three agencies before we can get approval to move ahead with the restoration of the train station. One person is telling us one thing and someone else is telling us something else that is contradictory.”
Mayor Cline anticipates additional information at the next commissioners’ meeting on Dec. 9.
County Councilman Rick Price was asked for information about the vertical expansion proposed for the Beulah landfill. Because it would double the current 75’ height to 150’ numerous complaints have been lodged against the project. He recommended that anyone interested in voicing a concern or learning more about the proposal should attend a public hearing on Nov. 19, 6 P.M., at the Hurlock Elementary School.

Susan Bautz is a freelance writer for the Dorchester Banner.

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