Scottsdale's McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park is planning to build a new exhibit building to showcase model trains.
The $4.4 million building, expected to be completed in summer 2010, will also be a place for interactive learning, said Bob McNair, senior recreation coordinator for the park.
Currently, the park's model trains are being held in bunkhouses not directly accessible to the public. Visitors stand outside the bunkhouses and look through windows to view the model trains. The impetus for the renovations is to provide a place where visitors can see the model trains up close in an air-conditioned building.
The new exhibit is planned for the southeast corner of the park, spread over 30 acres at Scottsdale and Indian Bend roads. The model railroads are planned to be on three different scales.
In addition to housing model trains, the new exhibit would contain a section describing the history of railroading in Arizona.
An exhibit showcasing model trains had always been a desire of the late Guy Stillman, one of the main forces behind creation of the park, McNair said.
"The building itself was a wish of Guy Stillman's," McNair said. "I was lucky enough to get to work with him here. He really wanted a model railroad exhibit to showcase them."
Of the $4.4 million cost, $2.4 million is earmarked from the city. Another $2 million would come from the nonprofit Scotts-dale Railroad and Mechanical Society, which has committed to raise the additional money needed.
"The board is committed to make up the difference between what the project costs and what the city has allocated," said Sharee Brookhart, board president of the Scottsdale Railroad and Mechanical Society.
In addition to highlighting the model trains, the plans call for an interactive exhibit.
McNair emphasized that while no plans have been finalized, some ideas have been discussed regarding the possibilities for the interactive exhibits.
One idea may be to set up a computer connection so a person would be able to run the model trains from the East Coast, via the Internet.
Another idea highlights "green technology." McNair explained that a locomotive running with a steel wheel on a steel track is more efficient than a rubber car tire on asphalt because there is no friction.
An exhibit would compare the two types of movement side by side and demonstrate the higher efficiency of the locomotive.
The new exhibit is probably the last big project for the park because "there's just not much space to do anything else," McNair said.