Worthington is moving forward with a railroad observation deck planned for McCord Park, 333 E. Wilson Bridge Road.

On Dec. 10, Worthington City Council accepted a donation of a caboose for the observation deck.

Lynn Rutherford-Harper and Joe Harper, extended family of Tracy Harper-Hayes and Joe Hayes, who is president of the Rutherford-Corbin Funeral Home in Worthington, donated the wooden train car, which has been sitting in the backyard of a family home in Upper Arlington.

"We thought it would be nice to be on public display someplace," Joe Harper said.

Darren Hurley, director of the Worthington Parks and Recreation Department, said city officials came up with the idea for the a train observatory after noticing children who visited the Worthington Community Center, 345 E. Wilson Bridge Road, were fascinated by trains. The park is next to the community center, and train tracks run to the east of both.

"I witnessed it in my own office as the kids of staff and other kids that make their way up and down our hallways are just glued to the windows anytime a train goes by," he said.

The caboose was built 1922 and was purchased by William Rutherford, son of the original owners of the funeral home and father-in-law of Joe Harper, in the 1960s because of his love of trains.

Hurley said the train car is something of a local landmark in Upper Arlington and was used as a cabana for the family pool and was later used for various events.

"Over the years it had been used a backdrop for lots of family events," Joe Harper said.

Hurley said the caboose would be used as a focal point for the deck and potentially as an education tool.

City Council President Bonnie Michael said that the idea for an observation deck has been considered for some time.

"We've been hearing about having some way for the kids to be able to watch the trains for some time now," she said.

Hurley said he is unsure about what the observation deck would look like in the final plans because it will be a challenge to move the caboose.

The city will partner with the Worthington AM Rotary Club and the Central Ohio Model Railroad Club on the project. The Rotary will help move the train to Worthington, Hurley said.

A master concept plan for McCord was approved May 21 by City Council. The plan compromised in terms of space with a community garden at the park after residents had expressed concern over it being removed.

The plan includes renovations of baseball diamonds and soccer fields, new playground equipment and two reservable shelters in addition to the railroad observation deck.

City spokeswoman Anne Brown said it is not clear what would be included with the observation deck, so the city had no cost estimates at this time.

Brown said the overall McCord Park improvements are budgeted at $450,000 for 2019 and $400,000 for 2020.

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