While some are impatient for more information about the National Railroad Hall of Fame, Galesburg’s tourism director said no matter where the attraction is built, or whether less money is spent, it will be a dramatic boost for local tourism.
While some residents and officials are impatient for more information about the National Railroad Hall of Fame, Galesburg’s tourism director said no matter where the attraction is built, or whether less money is spent to do so than originally envisioned, it will be a dramatic boost for local tourism.
Diane Bruening, executive director of the Galesburg Convention and Visitors Bureau, said, “If the National Railroad Hall of Fame comes to town, that would be a great asset to our community. ... Maybe we won’t get 300,000 visitors a year, like the Abraham Lincoln Museum in Springfield, but it will bring a huge amount of visitors to our community.”
At least one member of the Galesburg City Council has speculated that the Railroad Hall of Fame may be smaller than the original $60 million design. Bruening said that does not worry her.
“It doesn’t matter how big it is or how small it is, or how fancy it is,” she said. “It will be a big draw.”
Plans unveiled in 2006 called for the Hall of Fame to be in Kiwanis Park, visible from I-74. As far as anyone knows, that plan has not been changed.
Bob Bondi, who spearheaded the effort that led to the U.S. Congress designating Galesburg as the city to host the National Railroad Hall of Fame, said he is not worried about the lack of information that has been released to the public in recent months.
“I think they’re really working very closely with the city and getting all their ducks in a row” before going before the City Council, Bondi said.
He cited two factors that give him confidence: Executive Director Julie King and the fact that new members continue to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
“She’s a really good executive director,” Bondi, now president emeritus of the Hall of Fame board, said of King. “She wakes up every day and worries about it. It was a wonderful move when Jay (Matson) was able to find Julie. I really think she took it to the next level.”
And, Bondi said while the Hall of Fame board works behind the scenes to make a permanent facility a reality, things have not ground to a standstill.
“The wonderful thing is the induction process continues,” Bondi said. “There’s an ongoing process of choosing people to the Hall of Fame and giving them induction status.”
Contact John R. Pulliam at email@example.com