$2.7M from Santa Fe Southern Railway for Railyard Park and Plaza

SANTA FE, NM, 1/12/05 — Santa Fe Southern Railway, Inc. (SFSR) announced today a donation of $2.7 million to the Trust for Public Land (TPL) to help create a community park and plaza on the Santa Fe Railyard in downtown Santa Fe. The $2.7 million donation will allow for Railyard Park and Plaza design work to continue and for the first phases of construction to begin. This substantial gift moves the Trust for Public Land one step closer to the greater fundraising goal for the project.

In addition, Santa Fe Southern Railway has agreed to rebuild some of the existing rail infrastructure in the Railyard in a new location to allow new commercial development to take place at the Railyard site. The new rail improvements are valued at more than $200,000.

Santa Fe Southern Railway acquired the Santa Fe Rail Line in1992 from the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway (since merged with the Burlington Northern to become the Burlington Northern Santa Fe). The only other bidder at that time was a scrap dealer who planned to shut down rail service, sell the rail for scrap, cut up the land and sell it off. There was no other bidder willing to maintain rail service on the Santa Fe to Lamy rail line. Santa Fe Southern Railway has continued operating the 123-year-old freight service since that time and began excursion service in 1993.

On January 7, 2005, Santa Fe Southern Railway, working with TPL, sold the Santa Fe Rail Line property and track structures to the State of New Mexico. Santa Fe Southern will continue its operations on the rail corridor. Continued operations and public ownership of the Santa Fe to Lamy line secure crucial infrastructure and support the future development of commuter and other rail services in northern New Mexico.

Bob Sarr, President and General Manager of SFSR, said of the donation to the Railyard Park and Plaza: “It gives us a deep feeling of satisfaction to be able to contribute the lead gift for the Railyard public spaces. The work to preserve rail service into Santa Fe and the work to develop the Railyard into a space befitting the economic, cultural and transportation dreams of Santa Feans has proceeded along parallel tracks and has always been motivated by the same objectives. The founders of SFSR have always had a vision of the rail line and the Railyard supporting multiple uses.”

Because Santa Fe Southern Railway will continue to run excursion service for 23,000 + passengers per year, including 5000 + schoolchildren, the development of vibrant public spaces in the Railyard will enhance the attraction. “It is well known that parks, plazas, and pedestrian corridors lend energy and synergy to business districts. Our operation, as well as that of the other businesses and non-profits in the Railyard, will be cradled by engaging, vibrant and growth-producing spaces,” said Sarr.

“We are extremely grateful to Santa Fe Southern Railway for this very generous gift to the people of Santa Fe through the Trust for Public Land. Santa Fe Southern years ago began its support of public spaces by collaborating in the development of trails in the railroad right of way. Today’s gift continues that tradition and offers tremendous support to the new park and to the success of the Railyard redevelopment initiative overall. While we will require additional funds to complete our work, with this new support we should be able to break ground on the Railyard Park and Plaza this summer.” said Deb Love, Director, TPL New Mexico.

In 1995, the Trust for Public Land helped the city of Santa Fe purchase the 50-acre Railyard property. Now, guided by a public planning process, TPL is working to create new Railyard Park and Plaza on 13 acres of the site. The park planning process has included public forums, an international design competition, and design work, which is currently under way. The schematic design for the Railyard Park and Plaza will go before the Santa Fe City Council for approval in February.

The Park and Plaza will celebrate the character of the Santa Fe Railyard and adjacent neighborhoods and will complement the unique history, culture, and ecology of Santa Fe. The project will include:
? A plaza and permanent home for the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market and other outdoor markets
? A setting for special community events, performances, and exhibitions
? A cottonwood bosque and other native plants along the 400-year old Acequia Madre
? Integrated, innovative water harvesting systems for the irrigation of sustainable parklands
? A network of bikeways and trails that will connect to the expanding city trail system of which the historic brick depot platform will be a part
? Play areas, picnic tables, gardens, shaded areas, bike racks, and more.

Many Santa Feans have participated in public forums and meetings to provide input for the park and plaza design. Others have volunteered their time to help clean and maintain the Railyard site. Volunteers have helped build steps and pathways, create a parking area, and provide a temporary location for the Farmers’ Market. In addition, local businesses and individuals have contributed funds and services to the project.

The Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit land conservation organization dedicated to preserving land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and natural areas ensuring livable communities for generations to come. To make a donation to the Railyard Park and Plaza project, please contact Kristin Watson at the Trust for Public Land 505/988-2939 or kristin.watson@tpl.org.

Since it’s founding in 1972, TPL has protected nearly 2 million acres of land in 46 states. The Trust for Public Land depends on the support and generosity of individuals, foundations, and businesses to achieve our land for people mission. For information, please visit us on the web at www.tpl.org.

Posted 1/2005