Thursday, June 24, 2004


Easttown Township is the lastest community to have a gripe with SEPTA, although Amtrak is also involved in this mess as well.

According to the Main Line Life, the Easttown Board of Supervisors are taking issue with an abandoned building at the Devon Rail Station on the R5 Paoli/Thorndale line:

Frustrated with what it perceives as Amtrak's and SEPTA's lack of action to renovate or remove the crumbling Devon train station's baggage building, the supervisors passed a strongly worded resolution this week requiring Amtrak and SEPTA to remove or renovate the building. If not, the resolution said, the township will take matters into its own hands.

The township believes the baggage building at 21 N. Waterloo Road, just west of the main building, "has been for some time without activity, unoccupied and in a deteriorating condition, generally presenting fire, health and safety hazards to the public and an attractive nuisance for the public and the passengers of the railroad," according to the resolution.

"We had [the building] reviewed by the township engineer," pointed out Gene R. Williams, township manager, "and his concern is that since there is no roof on it, at this point it is in danger of collapsing."

The resolution states that Amtrak, which owns and leases the station to SEPTA, has 30 days to bring the building into compliance with township codes or remove the structure. If Amtrak does not comply, the township can either secure the building or demolish it, according to the Municipal Lien Law.

In a letter this month to Amtrak and SEPTA officials, Williams outlined attempts made through the years by the township to request the agencies to make improvements to the structure.

"We've been trying for 10 years for Amtrak to take some action and they have refused to do anything," maintained Supervisor William Connor. "The building is an eyesore and a public safety hazard."

Connor said it is likely the township would just tear the baggage building down rather than renovate it and bill the cost to Amtrak.


"We agree that the building is in a less desirable condition, and we have been applying pressure on SEPTA to have repairs made," explained Dan Stessel, Amtrak spokesman.

He said SEPTA officials have agreed in principal to make improvements. The agreement is not yet in writing, he added, but progress has been made.

SEPTA has delayed improvements because of development plans for the station, according to information received by Amtrak.


Stessel, however, claimed that Easttown lacks the authority to condemn the building and the Municipal Lien Law does not apply, since the station is federal property. He believes the matter can be resolved with SEPTA, which is required to maintain the condition of the Devon buildings according to the 47-Station Agreement. This outlines the lease arrangements for the 47 stations owned by Amtrak and leased to SEPTA along the Keystone Corridor from the 30th Street Station to Harrisburg.

"It's Amtrak's desire to be cooperative and work with SEPTA to have the repairs made," said Stessel. "We're cautiously optimistic that SEPTA will have this matter resolved shortly."

SEPTA did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Our guess is that SEPTA's Ministry of Mis-Information is taking its time drafting its denial...

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