The Liberty Land Flyer will be closed this summer so the Sedalia Parks and Recreation Department can do much-needed repairs on the tracks and replace the train house.
The Liberty Land Flyer is owned and operated by the Sedalia Sunrise Optimist Club, but it is in the process of allowing the Parks Department to take it over. This includes repairs and updates.
“With the Optimist Club, they don’t have enough people to run it,” said Director of Parks and Recreation Amy Epple. “It also needs to be repaired and they didn't have the money. So our board was like, it’s a jewel in this community with all the history, let’s fix it.”
There are several updates and repairs the Parks Department staff would like to complete, but safety is the No. 1 priority. Several sections of the rails will need to be completely replaced.
“A lot of those rails are bent so what happens is when it goes around it’s derailing and falling off, which is unsafe and it could tip over,” Epple explained. “So we’re going to have to go through there and repair a lot of the tracks in the north and south end. Around 1,400 square feet is going to need to be repaired, which is a lot of work.”
The department has looked to outside resources to help with figuring out exactly what needs to be done and how to do it. The search led to Alex Beams of Beams Railroad Service LLC of Wisconsin.
“It’s amazing, now that we've found the right people, they all have these different connections and they’re certified and they’re very knowledgeable about what they’re doing…” Epple said. “This Alex Beam was one that I felt like was very honest, was very knowledgeable, and so that’s who our selection was.”
Although an outside company is coming in, Epple said she thinks the Parks and Rec staff should be able to do the work in-house after some training. The training will also allow staff to conduct repairs in the future.
“He (Beam) came in Saturday, he spent about 10 hours with staff going over things,” Epple said. “He’ll be coming back in and we’ll do trainings with staff before they start…He will stay with them for one weekend to oversee them and supervise them and make sure that they are doing it correctly. They’re pretty confident that once they go through the training they'll be able to repair it in-house, which will save us quite a bit of money.”
The project will be a long process. There will need to be areas for mowers and vehicles to drive over the track without bending it. Another issue with the tracks is that normal wear and use has caused sections to sink into the ground. This means the entire track will be taken out and put back together correctly on top of what needs to be fully replaced.
“We’ll have to remove the tracks. Ours right now, it’s so old that it’s kind of sunk into the ground. So we’re basically going to have to be lifting and removing it all and then reinstalling it,” Epple said.
She said the plan is to start the tracks project after Liberty and Centennial pools have opened and finish around October. The shelter building where people wait in line is planned to be replaced next year.
Once the tracks are finished, redoing the train house is next because the roof is starting to rot. The structure will be torn down and replaced with a new one. The current building is yellow and the new one will go along with the architecture of the park better.
“We’re kind of taking Convention Hall and Liberty Stadium and meshing them together so that it fits really well,” Epple said.
The Parks Department is also collecting history about the train. To contribute history information or for questions about the project, contact the department at 660-826-4930.