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Downtown railroad depot gaining a new life

Graphic provided.

A former railroad depot located at 11 W. State St., in downtown Huntington, will be named in memory of a local historic preservationist and serve as the hub of a system of trails, Huntington Mayor Brooks Fetters announced on Friday, Dec. 20.

The depot, which will be known as Schenkel's Station, was donated to the city of Huntington by John and Shelly Schenkel to be used as part of the Huntington Trails and Greenways "master plan and implementation," says Fetters.

David Schenkel, whose name has been affixed to the old depot, was a "long time champion for historic preservation in Huntington," noted Fetters. "He had a vision for this station when it was in its worst condition to be a architectural jewel that would be part of a trails and greenway system in Huntington."

"It's been a long time in coming," Fetters added. "It is exciting today to be able to honor David's memory by having this become part of the city of Huntington.

"For centuries (the Schenkel family) have been public servants and have been corporate citizens and benefactors for the city of Huntington."

Schenkel's Station will act as the "central hub" for the system of trails and greenways that are currently in development by the city, says Fetters.

The trail system is made up of five sections, of which Fetters says the first phase is complete as the Lime City Trail at the Forks of the Wabash.

Phases two and five are yet to be designed, explains Fetters. Phase three will be complete in the spring of 2014 and runs from Elmwood Park on Frederick Street to LaFontaine Street.

The completion of phase four will bring a ribbon cutting at the depot, and is expected to occur in late 2014 or early 2015. That fourth section of trail is being designed by John Nelson, engineer from DLZ, and will run from LaFontaine Street to the Erie railroad bridge on Briant Street, says Fetters.

The trail and greenway plan was started in 2007, says Fetters, and was developed by previous administrations.

"It involves capturing and using to the best of their abilities the river and the natural amenities that make Huntington a great place," says Fetters.

"I want people to say they love the trails in Huntington," he adds "It will help connect people neighborhood to neighborhood, downtown to our parks, to our university, and to our attractions. It is just exciting to see this really begin to come to fruition."