Narrow Gauge Railroad Applies for Two New Buildings on Waterfront

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Temporary Trailer that Currently Sells Tickets for Mini-Railroad Rides.

The Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad has filed  applications with the city’s planning department for the construction of two new buildings along the waterfront.  The application was dated September 19 and signed by Senior Landscape Architect, Mark Johnson, of SMRT.

The storage building site will be located at the northern base of Munjoy Hill below the city wastewater treatment plant .  The site was formerly an active rail corridor and as such is characterized by a compacted gravel surface and rail lines with sparse weedy vegetation according to the application letter from SMRT.

The second building, the depot building, is to be located immediately east of the Ocean Gateway exit drive at the intersection of Hancock and Thames Streets across from the recently completed WEX building.  The site is currently a mixture of lawn and bituminous pavement adjoining the existing tracks. The single story building will cover approximately 1,000 sf. with a covered platform linked by a covered walk and will serve for passenger loading/unloading and special events.  The depot will serve for ticketing and passenger waiting.  The building will be served by new underground utility connections for water, sanitary sewer and power/telecommunications.

SMRT also designed a depot to be used for the Museum, but whether or not that is the current plan is not known by this blogger.

The mini-railroad was formerly a part of the Edaville Railroad, in South Carver, Massachusetts.  A group of rail fans under the leadership of Phineas Sprague, Jr., brought it up to the Eastern Promenade in 1993 much to the consternation of many Munjoy HIll NIMBY’s.  The rail equipment became available because of a dispute between the owners of the land and the equipment owners.  The property is a cranberry plantation and the trains were used initially to haul supplies over the plantation and in 1950 became a favorite spot for families during the holidays.

When Museum volunteers realized that Sprague was seriously looking for a purchaser for his almost 10 acres of valuable waterfront property, they began looking for a place to relocate to.  The most recent consideration was up in Gray at a shopping center.  But there were serious problems with that location – including a lack of enough $$ to make the move – to eliminate that option.  Despite countless fundraising efforts going back for years, the non-profit minis never succeeded in that project.

This application will be reviewed by city staff and no further notices will be made public.  For questions, please contact planner Shukria Wiar, at 207 – 756-8083 in the planning department at city hall.

As a former volunteer at the Museum, this blogger  has written extensively over the years about it.  They include:  July 30, 2019, August 4, 2014, August 28, 2017, January 17, 2011 and September 16, 2009.

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