Amtrak station proposal aims to springboard local deconstruction industry

The former Charles Joseph building at 514 S. Church St.
The former Charles Joseph building at 514 S. Church St.

• Amtrak public hearing set for 7 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 3, at Park District headquarters

By Jim Hagerty
Staff Writer

A Rockford man will take his vision of building a downtown Amtrak station with re-purposed materials from the same building to city officials next week.

Bill Howard wants to re-purpose materials from the west end of the former Charles Joseph building at 514 S. Church St., and use them to redevelop the east portion into the Amtrak station. The city is considering the site for the hub, which would place it across from the $53 million Ziock Building hotel project.

The problem so far is that Rockford does not have a deconstruction industry. There is no prevailing wage, making the bidding process difficult, if not impossible. Howard says that could all change with this project.

A deconstruction industry centers on the systematic dismantling of obsolete structures with the philosophy of re-use, salvage and recycled material,” Howard said. “This will reduce, if not eliminate, landfill obstacles, address global warming, preserve raw materials, teach valuable skills and utilize untapped human talents.”

Howard has already begun deconstructing the Charles Joseph building. His crews have been engaged by the previous owner as part of a settlement agreement when the city acquired the property. He is now circulating a petition he will present at a Sept. 3 public meeting about the possibility of the Church Street Amtrak station.

Following (in italics) is the petition:

We, the undersigned are:

1. In favor of locating the Amtrak Station in the area south of Cedar Street between South Main and Court streets.

2. In favor of creating jobs by deconstructing the existing warehouse at 514 South Church Street, and utilizing the saved materials in the construction of the new station.

3. We also value the historic significance of the warehouse and advocate for using the existing east end of the structure as a component of the new station.

We understand the inherent values of the above and wish to bring these to the public officials making the decisions to which this public hearing is directed.

A. Exercising the above recommendations will make a statement to the world that Rockfordians value their history.

B. Exercising the above recommendations will let the world know that we understand the detrimental effects of demolition waste buried in landfills.

C. Jobs created by this action will result in the creation of a permanent deconstruction industry that would influence the building industry with environmentally friendly products.

D. This action would fundamentally add character and substance to current and future downtown revitalization efforts.

Howard says Rockford is ripe with possible deconstruction sites. What could be salvaged from the former District 205 Administration Building, 201 S. Madison St., is one he says could get under way along with an Amtrak project.

Soft stripping the building of its marble stairs, walnut banisters, massive woodwork, hardwood floors and even the good acoustical ceiling tiles would yield substantial revenue,” he said. “This deconstruction would showcase the ‘recycle and re-use’ principle, and save tons of perfectly good building materials from adding to our diminishing landfill capacity.”

The Amtrak station public hearing is from 4 to 7 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 3, at Rockford Park District headquarters, 401 S. Main St., downtown Rockford.

From the Aug. 27-Sept. 2, 2014, issue

3 thoughts on “Amtrak station proposal aims to springboard local deconstruction industry

  • Aug 27, 2014 at 10:09 am

    There is also a meeting today, Wednesday August 27th…

    From press release…

    ROCKFORD – Anyone interested in learning more about passenger rail service between Rockford and Chicago is encouraged attend an Amtrak Town Hall Meeting hosted by Illinois Senator Steve Stadelman.

    Senator Stadelman, D-Rockford, has invited Illinois Department of Transportation experts to give a 45-minute report on the status of the $223 million project. A question-and-answer session will follow.

    5:30-7 PM, WED., AUG. 27
    Zeke Giorgi Center Auditorium
    200 S. Wyman St., Rockford, IL

    “Passenger rail service to and from Chicago holds tremendous potential for economic growth and enhanced quality of life in the Rockford area,” Stadelman said. “The public is excited about the prospect of a rail link with Chicago, and I think it is important to keep the public fully informed and to involve as much public input as possible.”
    Construction is expected to begin in October 2014, with one daily round trip anticipated to be running by the end of 2015, two daily round trips by the end of 2016 and eventual service to Dubuque, Iowa. Amtrak will provide the restored Intercity Passenger Rail (IPR) service from Chicago to Rockford, using Metra & Union Pacific Railroad tracks.

    Track and bridge upgrades, increased capacity, a layover facility, a UP/Metra connection and new stations – including one in Rockford — are among the improvements being funded through Governor Quinn’s Illinois Jobs Now! Capital Program.

    IDOT Project Manager Elliot Ramos will lead an overview discussion of Amtrak service and preparation work before fielding questions with Senator Stadelman and other transportation, engineering and municipal representatives.

  • Aug 28, 2014 at 11:36 pm

    Bill Howard’s proposal for building material re-use is consistent with efforts all over the country to improve communities with materials ready-to-hand. Check out — Jim Schulman, Board
    Member, Building Materials Reuse Association

  • Aug 31, 2014 at 3:28 pm

    I am for reusing/recycling I am for benefiting Rockford. I am concerned about the residence and gang activity in the area in question., Parking and safety of patrons. How will this be addressed?

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