It was Ypsilanti’s worst kept secret. On Friday, the Governor flew into town and made a surprise visit to Ypsilanti to present the City with a check for $500,000 to fix up the Freight House and get it ready for the new rail service.

The Tattler wandered down to the freight house on Friday morning to rub feathers with the governess. The Tatt was fully expecting the building to collapse when the nearly 200 well wishers rushed out onto the floor to greet the governor.

After all, when the East Side Neighborhood Association wanted to meet in the Freight House Cafe last week, they were told by the City the building was unsafe and they could not meet there.

Never mind the building had been opened during Heritage Festival for the last three years as 1,000’s of people walked through the cafe to see old pictures.

The building was unsafe and couldn’t be used for any neighborhood meetings. Period.

The Tatt was a little surprised at how poorly prepared the Governor’s advanced detail team was for the visit. There were no ambulances waiting outside, the hospitals hadn’t been put on alert, and there were no search and rescue teams waiting to go in when the walls and floor collapsed.

In fact, all the governor had was a driver and one guard. She didn’t even get an escort by the Ypsilanti Police.

Apparently, if you want to have a meeting in the Freight House, bring a check. To use the main room with no heat, well that is $500,000. To use the cafe, that will cost you $50,000.

There you go east side tattlers, write a check for $50,000 and you can have your neighborhood meeting.

Governor makes decision for Ypsilanti
Train Platform to be on West Side of Tracks

While the French’s have been going to war over which side of the track the proposed train platform would be located, Governor Granholm announced at her news conference the new Ypsilanti train station for the Ann Arbor to Detroit rail service would be located at the Freight House.

Well that made that decision easy. Next?

The Tattler dug through old newspapers last night and found this story from the Ypsilanti Courier from January 20, 2004.

Freighthouse to reopen

By Kathleen Conat
Courier Correspondent

The Friends of the Ypsilanti Freighthouse are celebrating. They’ve been given the keys to the Freighthouse, have insurance for the building and a lot of creative and hardworking people are now ready to pitch in and get it ready for reopening.

Assistant City Manager Robert Bruner turned over the keys and alarm codes to access the building, saying, “I feel this is a really positive step. While there is still work to be done in order to reopen the building for public use, this is an important milestone. < … snip … >

Chase said the Friends estimate they need $65,000 to pay for the necessary repairs, unless local contractors want to volunteer their help. In other (sic) to raise the money, the Friends are planning fund-raisers for the near future.

Former Assistant to the City Manager Bob Bruner returned to the scene of the crime on Friday to schmooze with Ypsi’s glitterati and look at all his good works. Bob was joined by 100’s of little people, none of whom weighed over 68 pounds. Fire Marshall Jon Ichesco, who used to work for Northwest Airlines, had implemented a strict weight limit for each guest over fears the floor would collapse.

Missing from the event was embattled DDA Director Brian Vosberg. City Hall was closed for Good Friday and Vosburg already had plans for an Easter Egg hunt down in Detroit. Vosburg couldn’t be bothered with the Governor visiting his DDA district, after all, how would he record the time on his time sheet?

The Freight House looked remarkably the same as it did in 2004 when Bruner shut down the Freight House because the building was unsafe for human occupancy. Five years later and having spent over $100,000, the building is still closed and according to the City still unsafe.

Well, it is apparently safe enough for the Governor, but six people from Depot Town want to meet there, no way.

The Obama stimulus money is going to make the building safe and will finally get the Freight House doors reopened. Maybe.

Where’s the bathroom?

The Governor brought a cartoon check for $500,000 and the Ann Arbor Community Foundation sent over another check for $103,000 last week.

The Friends wanted the Mayor to sign over the check right then and there but the Mayor said he left his pen in his other jacket. Besides it was Good Friday, the banks were closed.

Five years later, the Freight House is still closed and instead of costing $65,000 to re-open as predicted in 2004, the Friends are now saying it will cost an additional $1.5 million.

The Tatt thinks they sort of forgot to tell the governor that small detail.

It is unclear if the $603,000 received in the last 30 days is even enough to re-open the doors much less get it ready to receive passengers from the train service that will start next year.

Even with the $603K, the current plan has no money to build a bathroom. But the solar roof and rain gardens will be spiffy.

Passengers may have to go around to the back of the building to relieve themselves, like they did 100 years ago.

Governor, thanks for stopping by, next time you are in town, drop by the Water Tower and we BoFs can sit on the perch and look out over all your good works.

Oh, and when you come back, can you bring us a port-a-potty for the Freight House, we are going to need it.