Lacey City Councilman Lenny Greenstein didn’t hold back Thursday night.
Prior to the council voting on whether to award a $762,000 construction contract to build the city a replica train depot, Greenstein reiterated his displeasure, saying he has been opposed to the project from the beginning.
“This would be the single biggest abuse of taxpayer money in my eight years on the council,” he said, pointing out that the total cost of the project — $890,000 — is close to $1 million.
The replica train depot — not a working train depot — will be built alongside Woodland Trail in the 5700 block of Pacific Avenue Southeast. It is designed to reflect the area’s history because an 1894 Northern Pacific Railway depot used to occupy the site.
City officials view it as a future amenity that will eventually tie into a nearby expanded Lacey Museum. The city bought property and a building that once housed a carpet business for the museum.
The replica train depot will have a 4,000-square-foot platform and 1,300 square feet of interior space. It also will have bathrooms, a picnic area, and what the city calls “associated spaces.”
Greenstein said he loves history, and believes strongly in celebrating the city’s history, “but not at $700 per square foot to build a bathroom.”
“This is an absolute disgrace,” he said.
Councilman Jason Hearn also voted against the project — he said he wanted to see more community involvement — and Michael Steadman recused himself from voting because he has ties to the contractor.
However, Mayor Andy Ryder, Deputy Mayor Cynthia Pratt and council members Rachel Young and Carolyn Cox voted for the train depot.
Cox reminded the council that the train depot is not an entity unto itself, but is a piece of a great project that is connected to the future Lacey Museum.
“It’s way more than a bathroom,” she said.
Pratt also reminded the council about the area’s history — how people used to come by train to visit the resorts in the area and a long-gone racetrack. She said she expects the community will be drawn to the depot and enjoy it.
Work on the depot is expected to begin in June and continue until March 2020.