|Posted by Anne Siren on October 12, 2012 at 3:25 PM|
By Judy Wilson
Deerfield Beach – One day, the little red caboose that has been parked alongside the FEC tracks, will be an attraction at the Railroad Museum and story tellers at Constitution Park will be spinning their tales from a stage. Both projects will be funded from the remains of a county bond issue approved by voters in 2000.
The local funding has been approved by Broward Vice Mayor Kristin Jacobs whose district includes Deerfield Beach. It is just the beginning of the process required to actually spend $78,000 to move the caboose, $150,000 for the stage in the arboretum at Constitution Park.
In 2008, Pompano’s historic Sample McDougald House was awarded $250,000 from this same fund source, the People or Parks Grant Program. According to Marcia Monsarret, Jacob’s aide, those funds are still being disbursed. Both of Deerfield’s projects, however, are less complicated.
The caboose, vintage 1950s, was donated to the Historical Society by Wm. Thies & Sons, and brought to the railroad siding at Hillsboro Boulevard that serves Deerfield Builders Supply.
Over the years, attempts to move it to the Seaboard Airline Station and the Railroad Museum there failed due to lack of money. Now the parks grant will go for engineering costs, permits, site construction and restoration of the caboose so that it can be opened to the public as an educational tool. Unfortunately, three governmental entities are involved: the city, the county and Tri-Rail.
Ed Dietrich, president of Deerfield Builders and avid historian, has become the keeper of the caboose. Some months ago, he announced it would be repainted in its original colors – orange and black- by volunteers from the Kiwanis Club and Historical Society. Dietrich said this week the paint came but the perfect moment – willing volunteers on a sunny day – has not. Nevertheless, with his grant funds in hand, Dietrich is excited. “It’s ‘all aboard’ as we say,” he quipped this week.
Just where the caboose will be placed is still up for discussion. The front of the Seaboard Railroad Station, on Hillsboro Blvd., just east of Military Trail, would give it great visibility, but has traffic issues, Dietrich said. Placing it further to the south would make it adjacent to the Railroad Museum on a more spacious piece of land.
The Friends of the Arboretum are hoping $150,000 can be allotted from the remaining bond funds to build a band shell in the meadow there. Friends president Jerry Behan said the idea is in the formative stages and there are considerations because of nearby homes in Deer Creek and possible deed restrictions on Constitution Park.
If it can be built, a band shell would provide the stage for small musical events, private parties and the storytelling festival, Behan said. “We want only the nice stuff there,” he said. “Not high impact events.”
Local volunteer PJ Egan put together the package of photos and projected band shell costs submitted to Jacobs’ office. “I was just the squeaky wheel,” Egan said this week. “But I called and got the ball rolling. There is no sense in leaving $150,000 on the table. The band shell would have a lot of uses for the public. And the grant’s purpose is to use green space to enhance the community.”
With the expectation that the band shell will be built and that the arboretum will get more visitors, a parking lot is being constructed on the east side of Constitution Park which could triple the number of parking spots. Fifty boulders, taken from beneath the fishing pier to allow for its renovation, have been moved to the arboretum to become part of the landscape. Areas around the parking lot will be developed as hammocks, wetlands, and pine forests. The parking surface will be a stabilized turf.
The park/arboretum offers another amenity not often used, the C-2 Canal which flows north and south on the very east end alongside the new parking lot. “We’d like to bring bass fishermen in there.” Behan said.