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Marshal Phipps’ attempt to bring back the train to Hunter Park got a major boost as the Douglasville native received IRS nonprofit status for his project.

Phipps devised a 10-step plan for the refurbishment of the train through the Friends of the Hunter Park Scenic Railroad, which he started a couple years ago.

He said he recently received word that the project obtained nonprofit status, which will aid in fundraising for the project.

“This is huge for us,” Phipps said.

He said that fundraising will not begin until he has signed a contract or reached an agreement with the city of Douglasville on the project.

Douglasville runs Hunter Park, which is located on Gurley Road in the city limits.

“I’ve given the paperwork to the city,” Phipps said. “I know it won’t be an easy process. I just waiting to reach an agreement on mutual terms so we can begin.”

With Phipps project getting nonprofit status, individual and group contributions will be tax-deductible.

Phipps is hoping that will attract donors. There is also the possibility of grant money that can be explored.

“Getting the nonprofit status was critical to our next move,” he said. “Once we come to terms, I can start marketing and fundraising.”

Phipps said he has had some early initial meetings with city officials since starting the project.

In previous talks, Phipps said city officials wanted the train tracks to be completely replaced as part of the project for safety reasons. The cost of the replacement will largely come from donations and grant money.

Phipps has stated in previous interviews, he hoped “by 2022 to have the first phase of the plan put into action, which is the initial reactivation of the railroad.” Everything now depends on how soon he can reach an agreement with the city on the project.

Growing up in the county, Phipps’ interest in refurbishing the train grew from having ridden it as a youngster.

“I rode that train when I was a child before the park was redeveloped and I want to see it running again as do many people who visit the park,” Phipps said in an April 2020 interview. “It’s been roughly half a decade and the train, which got much positive attention over the years, is still currently out of action — and I want to change that.”

Details of the plan are posted at www.friendsofthehunterparkscenicrailroad.org, a website Phipps has devoted to the project.