We appreciate Carlynn Toth’s recent letter to the Readers’ Forum about the Johnstown train station. The Johnstown Area Heritage Association (JAHA) agrees wholeheartedly that the station can be a gem for our region and is working toward that goal.
JAHA first became involved in the preservation of this historic structure in 1994, when we and the Johnstown Redevelopment Authority obtained funding to rehabilitate the concourse and relocate the Amtrak ticket office. In December 2010, the station was donated to JAHA by Carole Furst Gigliotti and Harvey and Katherine Supowitz for the purpose of becoming a visitors’ center for the Johnstown Discovery Network.
We have completed the planning phase of this project and hope to begin work on it as soon as we can obtain funding. The scope of work includes upgrading critical systems and infrastructure; making the building code compliant; replacing the restrooms; upgrading parking and sidewalks; replacing the building’s flat roof; and replacing electrical, plumbing, and heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.
The station will play an important role in JAHA’s overall goal of contributing to Johnstown’s economic revitalization through heritage tourism, along with facilities we have developed thus far, including the Johnstown Flood Museum, Heritage Discovery Center and, most recently, Peoples Natural Gas Park. It also can serve as a trailhead for the Path of the Flood trail.
The station is ideally located for this purpose, convenient to all JAHA attractions as well as the Inclined Plane and the National Historic Districts of Downtown Johnstown and Cambria City.
More importantly, its history and architectural significance make it an ideal place to orient visitors to the many fascinating stories of Johnstown. It also will be available for rental for private events.
In the meantime, it will continue to be an active train station, and in the future Amtrak plans to make significant upgrades to the building to bring it into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Richard Burkert is CEO and president of Johnstown Area Heritage Association.