Fort Mill Times

Downtown group looks to catch a train

Move Fort Mill Forward plans on leasing a township icon -- the red caboose at the bottom of Main Street which will house its offices.
Move Fort Mill Forward plans on leasing a township icon -- the red caboose at the bottom of Main Street which will house its offices.

The little red caboose at the bottom of Main Street may be getting a new tenant soon.

The Fort Mill Town Council, which owns the caboose, voted 6-0 last Monday to lease it to Move Fort Mill Forward, a downtown revitalization group. The contract has not been completed and the council must approve it again before it's official, but the civic organization could move in within a month, depending on when the second reading goes before the council.

"We hope we can move in next month," group President Chip Smith said. "So we can get ready for our first event, Fort Mill Thunder."

Move Fort Mill Forward plans to use the caboose for office space and as a base of operations for its events. The group intends to hold four major events in town each year, Smith said. Fort Mill Thunder will be a car show and blue grass festival along Main Street on Saturday, May 24. The event will start with a motorcycle charity ride, with proceeds going to the Fort Mill Care Center. The blue grass bands will play in the Confederate Park bandstand.

Other events on the group's agenda include the second annual Art On Main this fall, followed by the annual Fall Festival and possibly a candidates forum.

"We just needed a home to

operate from," Smith said. "Once we get a home we might try to expand our services."

Along with having an actual office for the organization for the first time, the group also plans to sell some of its merchandise such as the Christmas ornaments it commissions each year. The ornament this year will be the Anne Springs Close Dairy Barn, Smith said.

Move Fort Mill Forward will get the caboose for $1 per year on a year-to-year basis under the lease the council will be voting on, according to Town Manager David Hudspeth. Town employees will continue to mow the grass and trim the bushes around the caboose, but Move Fort Mill Forward will pay the utilities.

Move Fort Mill Forward, a nonprofit organization, was created in 2004 out of the Fort Mill Downtown Revitalization Task Force. Last year, the task force merged with Move Fort Mill Forward with the goal of stimulating economic growth and development to make downtown the heart of Fort Mill again.

The train car has been empty since the Fort Mill Area Council of the York County Regional Chamber of Commerce left it to move into 210 Tom Hall St. about five years ago. If there are any major problems uncovered at the caboose the town would fix them before leasing it, Hudspeth said.

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