This is the end: ‘Inclusion Caboose’ ribbon-cutting Saturday - Brownsville Herald: Local News

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This is the end: ‘Inclusion Caboose’ ribbon-cutting Saturday

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Posted: Thursday, September 12, 2019 9:15 pm

A ribbon-cutting ceremony and grand opening for “Inclusion Caboose,” a kids library housed in a vintage, renovated caboose, is scheduled for Sept. 14 at 10:30 a.m. in Linear Park.

“Inclusion” is part of the name because the ongoing project will eventually feature amenities for special-needs children in addition to books. For example, future plans include a fence around the perimeter — similar to the adjacent Laureles Ranch House — so kids can run around, but not off. Plans also call for amenities for children with impaired hearing and vision.

Dolly Sevier, the Brownsville pediatrician who secured the initial funds for the project, said that for the time being the caboose will be regularly staffed between 9 a.m. and noon, with story time at 11 a.m., on Saturdays to coincide with the Brownsville Farmers’ Market. The caboose, under the purview of the Brownsville Parks and Recreation Department, will also be open for special events, she said.

The caboose sits on an actual rail car scale, a remnant of the park’s history as a Southern Pacific railroad switch yard. The tiny, adjacent scale house now serves as a “take a book, leave a book” library, Sevier said.

The original grant she secured, $2,500 from the Texas Pediatric Society Foundation, Sevier followed by collecting $3,000 each from the Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation and the Housing Authority of the City of Brownsville, plus another $2,000 in materials and labor from the Community Development Corporation of Brownsville for the interior renovation.

The Port of Brownsville donated money and OmniTRAX, which operates the port’s Brownsville & Rio Grande International Railroad, contributed an original railroad “cross buck.” The city also had at least $5,000 in leftover renovation funds that were accessible, Sevier said. The Brownsville Wellness Coalition also contributed to the project.

Parks and Recreation leveraged the various donations to successfully apply for a $30,000 play-space grant from the National Recreation and Park Association and the Walt Disney Company. The city has also applied for a Community Development Block Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for further improvements to the park, Sevier said.

The caboose was donated by the Brownsville & Rio Grande railroad in 2007 and placed in Linear Park, which is within the Mitte Cultural District. The city budgeted $40,000 for the exterior renovation of the caboose, partnering with the Brownsville Preservation Society, which coordinated the project. The renovation involved sandblasting and painting the exterior, building a new platform and removing a chain-link fence that had surrounded the caboose for years.

sclark@brownsvilleherald.com

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