Editor, The Beacon:
There has recently been much renewed conversation in the public media about the proposed SunRail station for DeLand.
It seems that funding for the extension of service from DeBary to DeLand might finally materialize, and that the DeLand station might finally become a reality after years of discussions, delays and disappointments.
The future DeLand station, as originally proposed, was to use the existing Amtrak station on Old Highway 44 west of the city. While the tracks and the station house are there, not much else is.
I believe that we need a better vision for DeLand and for West Volusia in general. I would propose using the existing spur off of the main line, with track and right of way intact, to extend the rail service into Downtown DeLand.
That track, previously used to haul heavy freight, could certainly be upgraded for much lighter passenger service.
Costs are relative and need to be weighed against the benefit of having commuter-rail service to Orlando, the airport and points south within the convenience of DeLand’s urban center.
There is a large industrial/commercial zone at the terminus of the spur, roughly bordered by the area north of West Wisconsin Avenue, south of West Minnesota Avenue, and extending along West Michigan Avenue between North Adelle Avenue on the west and North Clara Avenue on the east.
There is more than sufficient space for parking, restaurants, shops and services. An otherwise dilapidated and underutilized area of urban blight could be transformed into a viable and profitable attraction for the city, within just a few blocks walking distance to already-successful Downtown DeLand. Not quite another Church Street Station, but perhaps more like downtown Winter Park.
Municipal services and utilities are already in place, and it would represent an environmentally sensible infill as opposed to creating a whole new city of urban sprawl out by the existing train station, where there is currently nothing.
This will take vision and political courage from our elected officials and our business and community leaders, as there will be less to profit from the developers, but much more to gain for our community.