CRESTVIEW — New use might await a downtown building that once was an Amtrak passenger shelter.
The building — unused since the railway’s Sunset Limited transcontinental service was suspended east of New Orleans in 2005 — was boarded up for several years. Crestview Public Works employees removed the boards last year when then-City Council President Robyn Helt said they made the building look ramshackle.
Now, "the hope is it will be incorporated into the (planned) linear park between Main Street and Twin Hill Park,” Helt said. The city is accepting proposals for a pedestrian and bicycle connector.
Passersby periodically use the building as a rest stop; some eat on wrap-around benches at either end of the building.
The shack could serve any of several purposes, depending on what planners and residents recommend, Helt said. That could mean a food service, welcome center or public restrooms.
There’s even the potential for the building to resume its original function.
Local and regional Transportation Planning Organizations have recommended Florida officials join those in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana in requesting the return of Gulf Coast rail passenger service.
A Crestview stop would serve Emerald Coast destinations including Destin and Fort Walton Beach.
One function the shack doesn’t serve is an overnight shelter for transients or the homeless, Crestview Police spokesman Lt. Andrew Schneider said.
“We have not received a single complaint. We haven’t had any incidents reported in the last several months,” he said. “We very rarely see a transient. It’s just not a comfortable building.”
Routine patrols have not detected unlawful or unusual activity at the shelter, Schneider said.
“We do security checks when we pass by,” he said.