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Repurpose factory for a train depot

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The Midwest High Speed Rail Association is advocating for a “fast-track initiative” that would create a network of reliable passenger trains branching out from Chicago and traveling in excess of 200 mph. It estimates that $233 million will be needed to extend service through Elgin and Huntley to Rockford by rebuilding the Union Pacific tracks and connecting it with the Metra Milwaukee West tracks at the Big Timber Road station.

Huntley already has spent money on design plans for a train depot and parking lot on village-owned property at Main and Church streets.

That also is home to the former H.D. Catty Corp. building at 11117 S. Church St. – among the oldest buildings in Huntley. Bought by the village for $435,690, preservationists such as myself would love if a portion of the 33,100-square-foot brick structure could be repurposed for a depot. At its spring meeting on March 20, 2019, the McHenry County Joint Council of Historic Groups unanimously passed the following resolution:

RESOLUTION FOR THE PRESERVATION AND REPURPOSING OF THE H.D. CATTY CORP. BUILDING AT 11117 S. CHURCH ST., IN HUNTLEY, ILLINOIS

WHEREAS, the United States of America has made a considerable financial commitment to expanding the nation’s high-speed and intercity passenger rail network; and

WHEREAS, the Midwest High Speed Rail Association is advocating for a “fast-track initiative” that would create a network of reliable passenger trains branching out from Chicago; and

WHEREAS, Amtrak has identified the northeastern section of Illinois between Chicago and Rockford as an underserved area; and

WHEREAS, repurposing the old Black Hawk line would bring rail service to Huntley and its immediate neighbors; and

WHEREAS, Huntley already has spent money on design plans for a train depot and parking lot on village-owned property at Main and Church streets, commonly known as the Catty Building; and

WHEREAS, portions of the 33,100-square-foot brick structure could be repurposed for a depot and thereby avoid expenses associated with demolition and new construction; and

WHERAS, the century old building has a storied history that includes use as a dairy, brewery, farm implement dealership, fuse factory and, cellophane and aluminum foil packager; and

WHEREAS, a depot in the heart of the downtown district will serve as a catalyst for business activity and economic development; and

WHEREAS, developing this pipeline of national high-speed and intercity passenger rail projects will revitalize the domestic manufacturing industry and create additional American jobs that can never be off-shored; and

WHEREAS, passenger rail provides a more fuel-efficient transportation system thereby providing cleaner transportation alternatives and energy security; and

WHEREAS, in populated regions Amtrak trains and infrastructure carry intercity passengers and commuters to and from work in congested metropolitan areas, providing a reliable rail option while reducing congestion on roads and in the skies; and

WHEREAS, our railroad station is a source of civic pride, a gateway to our community and a tool for economic growth that creates transportation-oriented development and livable communities; and

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the McHenry County Joint Council of Historic Groups supports efforts to repurpose the century-old Catty Building as an Amtrak depot and potential retail hub for the entirety of McHenry County.

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