Mini-Railroad Losing It’s Lease at 58 Fore Street; The Cat Won’t Be Back! Meooow.

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The Polar Express Train, the Major Fundraiser for the Railroad, a Few Years Ago.

After many years at its only home in Portland, the narrow gauge railroad is about to lose its lease at Portland Foreside, a/k/a 58 Fore Street, according to city officials tonight. Officials at the narrow gauge railroad have been in talks with city manager Jon Jennings said toward the end of a meeting with the Economic Development Committee this evening. Where the contents of the Museum will go has not been announced yet. The discussions between the two parties have included the narrow gauge building a new ticket booth on the existing platform on the tracks near Ocean Gateway. ‘Jennings emphasized that the cost of building a new station would not involve any city funds and would be the sole responsibility of the non-profit. The two-footers will continue to run through the property, however.

The mini-railroad was formerly the Edaville Railroad, in South Carver, Massachusetts. A group of rail fans led by Phineas Sprague, Jr., former property owner, paved the way for most of that collection to move to Portland back in 1993 when it came up for sale due to a dispute between the collection owner and the property owner in Edaville. The famous NIMBY’s of Munjoy Hill fought mightly to prevent the city from giving approval for this project in a particularly nasty, underhanded fight. The mini-railroad has received numerous extensions of time to come to a lease agreement with CPB2, owners of the property. Apparently, the mini-railroad ran out of extensions. Meanwhile, the two-footers have been looking for places to relocate the trains for many, many years. Years ago, the railroad put out an RFP, but the responses were a disappointment. Bridgton was interested, but could not get the funds together to make the move. (This blogger was formerly a volunteer at the Railroad and has written many posts about it herein.)

Jennings also reported to the EDC that about two weeks ago, officials of “The Cat” asked if they could return to the Port of Portland this year. The city had already granted them six extensions during which the Bay Ferries was negotiating with Bar Harbor and most particularly with the Immigration Office for a move to Bar Harbor. However, the shutdown of the US government made it impossible for the Immigration Office to proceed with its work, further delaying its relocation to Bar Harbor. Jennings told Bay Ferries LLC that “we have moved on. The government shutdown wasn’t our fault,” he said. The Cat is the popular ferry service between Nova Scotia and Portland.

City staffer Kathy Alves said The Cat has been looking for Portland equipment it used here in Portland that it can relocate to Bar Harbor. A “ramp system” will be going to Bar Harbor Alves said.

Meanwhile, there remains an outstanding lawsuit to be resolved against the Portland Pilots and the Harbor Commissioners. It was filed by Bay Ferries LLC because of excessive rate hikes to “The Cat” – without legal notification of the pending increase. Portland Pirates are represented by a city of Portland attorney and The Cat is represented by Harold Pachios, Esq. of PretiFlaherty. The Portland Pirates is a monopoly in Portland Harbor whose services are required by the State. This blogger has likewise written numerous posts about the lawsuit herein whereas “The Portland Press Herald” has ignored the lawsuit.

Jennings gave a brief overview of the “Working Waterfront Group” and its achievements to date. Another meeting is scheduled for Thursday, November 7th from 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm. Zoning will once again be the focus of the next meeting. Parking issues will come up at a later meeting.

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