BELMONT, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — The vision of a trolley system connecting Belmont Abbey College to downtown is inching closer to reality.
Belmont Trolley Inc. Board chair Rob Pressley said at the July 10 Belmont City Council meeting that two of his nonprofit organization’s three checkpoints had been completed, with only funding for a facility remaining.
“It was a really busy year for Belmont Trolley,“ he told city leaders. “I don’t think when we came up with this idea eight or nine years ago, we could’ve had any idea what it takes a couple train cars to run up and down a track.”
The project’s centerpiece is a facility planned on N.C. Department of Transportation-owned land off Glenway Street. The trolley barn will not only house the cars, it will be an event center, Pressley described, featuring farmers markets, community events, catering and kitchen facilities, and restrooms for those using the Carolina Thread Trail.
Pressley said the organization would fund and build the barn and then donate it to the city. Belmont is in the third year of a five-year agreement with Belmont Trolley to fund the facility for $60,000 annually during that time.
Belmont Trolley’s marquee car is currently on city property. Car 85 was the last trolley to grace the streets of Charlotte, and it was taken off the tracks in the late 1930s.
“They made changes to design plans as a result of trolley plans,” Pressley said.
Pressley said that at least $2.5 million is required to build the facility, not including the site work and rail line. There’s been a gift of $205,000 from a local organization, and Belmont Trolley made a $3 million request from the state legislature.
A new website has also been launched in recent weeks. The master plan is to connect Belmont with Mount Holly and Gastonia.
“We need a facility that’s our last leg,” Pressley said. “We’re looking for grants, charitable giving, so we have a facility a community can be proud of.”