By Carol McCracken (Post # 2,720)
Donnie Carroll has been the executive director of the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Co. & Museum for almost three years, Although there’s only one mini-railroad at 58 Fore Street, he’s been negotiating with different parties as though the railroad were two separate tracks. And that COULD happen!
One mini track plans to relocate its museum and equipment to the Gray Plaza, Gray. For two years Carroll has searched, unsuccessfully for $10 M to make that possible. The relocation was necessitated by the sale of the waterfront property on which the minis have been located since the early 1900’s when it came up from near Cape Cod – as the Edaville Railroad. Carroll, a former state representative, has applied for twelve (12) grants – with four of them remaining active. Carroll is currently writing three (3) more grants.
Tomorrow evening, Tuesday;, September 20, the Gray Town Council will hold a public hearing and then vote on whether to place an initiative on the November ballot. The initiative placed on the ballot would award a grant of about $500,000 to the railroad if voters approve it. The grant would be awarded next year and be used for topographical mapping for the permitting process and toward the down payment for the purchase of the land owned by empire builder Dan Craffey, who owns the plaza and the land. The grant would establish a private/public partnership between the two parties. Carroll has down-sized his estimate to between $4 – 6 M to get to Gray by 2018.
The other track that has recently occupied Carroll’s time s negotiating with CPB2 LLC, Jim Brady, manager, the railroad’s landlord. The current lease expires in February of 2017. So the negotiations to maintain a presence at 58 Fore Street has been underway for a few months now, but no agreement has yet been reached. The Museum has a long-term lease with MaineDOT to use the tracks in exchange for keeping them in useable condition. That’s an important consideration for all parties.
“Families in Gray are very excited about the Museum moving there. But if voters don’t approve the referendum in November, we will continue to explore options everywhere. This is very much like a campaign,” said Carroll smiling. Something he knows a lot about since he has run eight (8) political campaigns as a state representative from Gray. He won seven (7) of the campaigns!