Fruita mulls new uses for rail car

Council will discuss ideas, which might be presented for vote soon

A new use may be in store for the old rail car that is located at the southeast corner of Dinosaur Journey’s parking lot in Fruita.

New life might be in store for an underused rail car and the lot it sits on in Fruita.

Fruita city councilors are considering requests for the rail car and its site, a less than half-acre parcel between Dinosaur Journey and the Fruita Section of the James M. Robb Colorado State Park.

To date, two residents have suggested plans for the area, and the ideas might play off each other, according to Steven Vigil, who presented a plan to the City Council on Tuesday night.

“I envision a small museum, art out of the rail car,” he told councilors. “I know this has been sort of an eyesore for everybody for the last 11 years. I personally think we’ve got a little diamond in the rough that needs to be improved.”

Another resident, Daniel Collins, the owner of Copper Club Brewing Company, previously contacted the city of Fruita with the idea to offer an outdoor beer garden at the site. Collins did not want to take on remodeling the rail car as a project, according to Fruita city staff.

Some Fruita city councilors said they did not want to sell the parcel, but they would be inclined to lease it at a reasonable rate to encourage economic development.

They plan to further discuss the ideas, and present options for council members to vote on during an early September meeting.

The 540-square-foot rail car currently is leased to Colorado Discover Ability, which uses it as office space. It also serves as a reservation center for Big Fun Rental and is used by real estate services. The rail car is listed on the Fruita Register of Historic Structures. It is in need of some immediate and long-term repairs, including fixing a broken water line, restroom repairs and fumigation, according to the city.

A lease on the rail car generates monthly lease payments of $350 from May to August and $100 a month from September through April, the city reported.

“I think it’s a wonderful idea,” Councilor Stacey Mascarenas said. “I’d love to see it on the tax rolls.”


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