The board of trustees once more looked into improvements to Riverside’s historic train station, a venue available for special and private events.
The historic venue has limited access to electric outlets and other features. Initially built in 1910 as a passenger waiting area, it does not have a kitchen or air conditioning.
Public Works Director Dan Tabbs told the village board meeting last Thursday that after evaluating the station’s infrastructure, the village found it is possible to install electric floor outlets. Six outlets on the western side of the station could be installed with a cost of about $10,000. Two additional outlets could be installed on the east side, where all available outlets now are.
In September, Tabbs asked the board to consider whether the village wanted to invest in installing electric outlets across the station to minimize the use of extension cords during events. These are a safety hazard, and not having enough electric outlets complicates logistics for event organizers, he said. Yet, installing electric outlets on the walls would damage the venue’s wainscoting, an idea rejected by the board. The board also asked to look into the venue’s use and revenue before making a decision.
Village Clerk Ethan Sowl said between 2022 and 2023, the train station was rented for 15 events, generating $2,500 in revenue. Not all events generated revenue as some were co-sponsored or organized by the village.
Trustee Megan Claucherty said it is important to have places for gathering, yet the village should evaluate the cost of installing outlets for the venue. She also said she is “uncomfortable” with having a safety issue in a space used for community events.
“My thought is that if the types of events we’re having in a space are not suited to the space, perhaps they should be utilizing other spaces rather than a pretty costly repair for that purpose,” she said.
Trustee Aberdeen Marsh-Ozga had a different viewpoint.
“I consider $10,000 to bring one of our very few gathering spaces and event spaces in Riverside up to a fully functional standpoint to be a very small [number],” said Marsh-Ozga.
Places for gathering are priorities to the community, Trustee Cristin Evans said. Trustee Jill Mateos and Alexander Gallegos agreed.
Claucherty asked the village to evaluate the current prices of renting the space and compare them to current prices for similar venues. Rental fees have remained the same since the train station rental policy was updated in 2016, said Village Manager Jessica Frances.
“Nothing is still the same price as it was in 2016, not even electric outlets,” Claucherty said.
Ultimately, the board approved installing eight electric outlets and updating the train station rental policy. The update will prevent event users from moving the benches in the station to prevent damage to the benches and the terrazzo floors, Frances said.
Installation will be completed by the end of 2023 to be covered by this year’s budget, which has about $18,000 allocated for train station improvements.