Train station project
This "Train Station" got $500,000 in 2001,
another $300,000 in 2002 while schools are being closed for lack of funding.

Bristol Trainstation Fiasco Update

by Lewis Loflin

Update March 2014: the Bristol Train Station is still idle and empty. Bristol and Abingdon are lobbying the state and federal government to underwrite taxpayer subsidized passenger rail. Another $6 million down a rat hole. As a non-profit they zero in taxes and depend on taxpayer handout to operate.

To quote one angry resident:

Lets see now. We have a train station with a passenger ticket window, and no passenger trains and no reasonable expectation of ever getting passenger trains again. Got that. We seem to have a train station with no real business plan of any sort. And the taxpayers have been forced to pay how many millions of dollars?

And for what? It looks like we the people who earn the money will continue to have our earnings taken from us by force or threat of force by our politicians to keep feeding the money sinkhole of a train station. STOP THE NON-ESSENTIAL SPENDING NOW! And no, the train station is not essential. Sell the train station to private business and either let it sink or swim on its' own with no more taxpayer subsidies!

July 2008: The Bristol, Virginia City council just released "the deed of trust for the former Union Depot to the Bristol Train station Foundation.

The city held the deed because it was the governmental agency that helped the nonprofit foundation secure federal grant funding." They helped secure millions of pork dollars for the project that as of 2008 still has no economic value. They touted the pork-barrel project as "transportation enhancement" and "economic development."

When I asked one official what exactly made this economic development, nobody has answered me to this day. The project has been the target of harsh criticism from residents sick of ever escalating taxes and utility rate hikes. The City utility also chipped in some freebies. This has cost taxpayers about $6 million and will produce nothing of economic value in my opinion, this failed before with the previous owner.

Quoting the press,

"The action was necessary for the nonprofit foundation to complete a deal to bring outside investors into the project...It has been a struggle to close on the [historic] tax credits. We have two investors - state and federal - and the one investor is demanding a release of the lien or we cannot move forward..."

Where the hell is the private investment? Guess nobody is that stupid.

With the tax credit scam "investors" (they hope) will plunk down $1 million to allow the train station foundation to pay off its debt. Then they will open the facility that's listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Ref. BHC July 9, 2008

What the hell???

"The Trainstation Foundation is working with a Chicago law firm to secure more than $1 million in state and federal historic tax credits for unnamed individual and a group - have agreed to buy the credits in exchange for a five-year ownership stake in the building...We didn't give up, and we were able to find counsel in Chicago that does nothing but historic tax credits."

So claims Foundation officials.

Both the Bristol, Virginia and Regions Bank released liens on the property and the $1 million will go to payoff the bank, the foundation will become a general partner in some "new for-profit entity," and the investors will be limited partners...The reason for the for-profit is because only a for-profit entity can receive the tax credits.

That seems to have been the whole idea was the tax credits. Their business plan if there really is one, is identical to that of that late Arthur Slaughter that failed. The new company will be a "subsidiary" of the Trainstation Foundation, which is still(?) a non-profit. After five years, "the foundation will purchase the facility back - for less than $100,000 - and then the foundation will own it."

Where do they plan to get that $100,000 from?

The foundation claims to have "tentative leases for two of the four available office spaces and a ticket office is in place, should passenger rail service ever return to Bristol...The public space includes a catering kitchen, but preliminary plans to establish a restaurant in the basement didn't materialize because of cost and issues with the historic tax credits...we would have had to put an addition onto the plaza area [along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard] and that would have complicated the historic tax credit piece." Again, this didn't work before, why now?

The Bristol VA/TN governments and this so-called Foundation paid $600,000 ($200,000 each) for this thing from the late Arthur Slaughter in 1999. The foundation has gotten $1.97 million in federal transportation enhancement pork and a nearly $1.2 million congressional earmark in 2006.

According to VDOT spokeswoman Michelle Earl, "Programmed into our current six-year plan is $315,000 for 2009 and $76,000 for 2010." Virginia has a severe budget problem at VDOT and wastes our tax dollars on this?

VDOT also provided a 25 percent match for the 2006 pork/earmark, little has come from private funds to the best of my knowledge. The project qualifies for funding "under VDOT guidelines because it is scheduled to be used to help promote tourism and because of the potential for passenger rail." There are no plans for passenger rail in Bristol.

This was all setup for no reason other than getting tax dollars for a project that's a proven economic failure the private sector won't pay for. Ref BHC July 15, 2008

Amtrak sick