Dalton taxpayers have put $200,000 in cash and Public Works Department work into the historic Crescent City train car, and private donors gave another $82,000, but it may take "a few hundred dollars" more to get it ready to open to the public.
City Administrator Jason Parker briefed members of the city's Public Works Committee — City Council members Tyree Goodlett and Annalee Harlan — on the plan on Friday. Parker said that despite all the work that has been done on the train car it still does not have a floor.
"The goal would be to put in a plywood floor, so that the train car can be opened up to the public and people can walk around in it," he said, such as during special events including festivals and on holidays or during National Train Day.
Parker said the work would be done by Public Works Department employees.
"It should not be too expensive, probably a few hundred dollars for the materials and the time it takes to do the work," he said.
Parker said that before that work can be done contractors that had been working on the car will have to remove their tools, and the city will have to collect, catalog and store "refurbished train car parts that had been fixed up and brought back to the site." Contractors including Mid America Railcar Leasing performed electrical work and work on the car's hardware and plumbing.
Parker said the last time any work was done on the car was "sometime last year, in 2019." He said he did not know why tools were still in the train car.
Parker said he plans to bring a proposal to install a floor to the City Council in "six to eight weeks."
Mayor David Pennington said he believes the council members will be receptive to the idea.
"This is all we ever wanted. We acquired the train car back during my first time as mayor, and the plan was just to clean it up and put a floor in it," he said. "I was surprised when I got back into office (in January) and found how much money had been spent on it."
Built in 1949, the Crescent City was originally a luxury passenger car for Southern Railway VIPs in its day. The car was part of the Southern Crescent passenger service that ran from New York City to New Orleans. After passenger service ended in the early 1970s, the car was brought to Dalton and used for many years as office space. Jonathan Caylor and Mark Hannah donated it to the city in 2011 and later that year it was moved to its current location next to the freight depot at 305 S. Depot St.
A temporary floor was installed in the Crescent City for the National Train Day celebration in 2016. That is the only time the public has been allowed in the train car since it was acquired by the city.