It was reported previously herein that the narrow gauge Museum must vacate its current building at Portland Foreside by the end of this month. That’s because of the redevelopment of this almost ten acres of valuable waterfront property by Portland Foreside.
The city spokeswoman, Jessica Grondin, just reported that the Museum has applied for a permit for a temporary trailer from which to sell tickets. However, the city needs more information from the Museum before the permit can be issued Grondin added.
The Museum has been moving its equipment up to the two-footer railroad at Alna where they are well-protected from the elements. Much of the Portland equipment has been forced to remain outside – adding to its already deteriorating conditions. Some long past volunteers were under the impression that the Sprague family would pay the cost of sheltering the equipment; the Spragues saw it differently. At times in the early years, there were serious disagreements between the Sprague family and volunteers of far less financial means. The Alna-based equipment still belongs to the Portland museum.
The Museum has been located at Portland Foreside, formerly 58 Fore Street, since `1992 when it came up from the Edaville Railroad, South Carver, MA by a group of rail fans spearheaded by Phineas Sprague, Jr. As a child, Sprague and his wealthy Cape Elizabeth family, visited the mini-railroad.many holiday seasons. They hoped to duplicate that tradition in Portland. It was even Sprague’s goal to run a mini-railroad to Hadlock Field for the Sea Dogs games, but that would have caused too many traffic, financial and safety challenges. It was an idea that Sprague stubbornly clung to for far too long.
For years now, the Museum directors have been trying to move to the Gray Shopping Plaza, Gray. The property owner is Ed Craffy. However, the property the Museum wanted to relocate to is an animal/bird sanctuary. Permits could not be issued. Furthermore, funds to finance such a move were not forthcoming – despite numerous fund raising efforts. Several years ago, voters of Gray turned down an opportunity to “loan” the two-footers about $50,000. to assist with Gray expenses to the disappointment of Donnie Carroll, then the executive director and a former state legislator. That was a signal to officials in Gray that voters were not interested in having the two-footers at the shopping plaza said a Gray resident who works at the Shopping Plaza.
Years ago, when the railroad volunteers realized that Sprague was trying to sell the valuable waterfront property, the Museum issued numerous RFPs. However, the few responses were a disappointment – and none of them offered the $$ desperately needed. Volunteers from Bridgton appeared to be the most likely, but that fell through as well because those volunteers could not finance the move.
Carroll, a Gray resident, told mhn.com years ago that Portland Foreside had said it would provide space for the Museum eventually. “It’s all about money,” as Caroll once said.
Wes Heinz, Executive Director of the Museum, has not responded to multiple telephone calls from mhn.com on the matter. Is this because he has an “exclusive” agreement with the “Portland Press Herald”? How much do you suppose it is worth to him?
Where are the NIMBYs of Munjoy HIll when we need them!
Note: During the early days of the Museum, mhn.com was a volunteer there, writing for its newsletter; “The Two-Foot Flyer.” It was phased out years ago because of its expense primarily and its inability to keep a volunteer editor.
Please see previous post herein dated July 30, 2019 for more information.