Historic Rail Trail Landmark Gets Face-lift
8/27/2012 (Updated 8/28/2012 1:01:26 AM)(Source: Kate Thornton)
An iconic staple along the popular Rail Trail in Vestal will soon get a face-lift at no cost to the taxpayers.
Monday night, the Vestal Town Board approved a leasing agreement with M Squared, a company that will manage the old Coal House on the west end of the Rail Trail.
According to Vestal Town Supervisor John Shaffer, the landmark was moved from its original location near the former Aldi's in Vestal to its current location at the Rail Trail seven years ago. In those seven years, Shaffer said the town has put more money into the upkeep of the building than what the building is actually worth. Schaffer said this leasing agreement is a win-win for the whole community. "I think the company that's got it will do a great job and we're looking forward to getting some money back on it."
By October 1st, M Squared will convert the Coal House into a concession stand for folks who visit the Rail Trail while keeping its historic facade. It will sell products like water, coffee, pastries, and healthy snacks. "It seems to be missing somewhere to have a drink, have a pastry, have a snack, and that's what so appealing about it," said managing member of M Squared Mark Mushalla. "I think it's something that was needed."
But, the plans don't stop there. M Squared will also renovate the upstairs of the Coal House into a meeting space. Eventually there will be an extended patio built with free wi-fi for people to meet and relax. Schaffer said they also want to build a char-pit to have a restaurant of sorts.
About 800 folks from the Southern Tier visit the Rail Trail on a given day. The Town of Vestal is currently working with the Department of Environmental Conservation to flood a nearby field to use as an ice rink in the winter time.
Town officials said the town needs a community center like this. There are two mid-distance races being planned. One 4-mile race on Veteran's Day to honor veterans, and a 5k race on Thanksgiving.
M Squared will pay rent and utilities on the property. They will share a portion of the profits from the concession stand with the town.
Schaffer also said the towns plans on extending the Rail Trail westbound towards Owego through Castle Gardens. Schaffer said the Federal funding has been approved, "it's about doing it now."
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