Train Museum Was to Roll Out of Fair Park By Saturday. That Won't Happen. Now What?

Categories: City Hall
Depot_Porch_Tear_Down_Nov_19_2011-(3)_400pxW.jpg
The museum began breaking down the depot for its move to Frisco last month.
Just checked the calendar and noticed: The Museum of the American Railroad should be rolled outta Fair Park by ... well, by Saturday, would you look at that. Except, no: Two years after the city sued the train museum, telling it to chugga-chugga thee to those new digs in Frisco or a temporary holding spot so it could free up land for the State Fair of Texas, the trains still sit on city property. The museum closed up shop in mid-November in anticipation of its move, but that's more or less the extent of it doings -- save for a release a few days ago concerning a $20,000 donation from Richard and Alice Bass for the Frisco digs.

Messages have been left for Museum of the American Railroad President and CEO Bob LaPrelle, who's now got a Frisco phone number; attorney William Brotherton, who repped the museum in its legal wranglings with City Hall, is out of town till tomorrow. But First Assistant City Attorney Chris Bowers says the city's been told the museum has run into some "unexpected problems" and has asked the city for more time.

Which it can do: The settlement agreement between the city and museum, which was not included in public court filings, allows for an extension -- but with penalties.

As in, starting January 1, the museum will have to pay the city $100 for every day the trains stay on the property. But that deal is only good through January 31, 2013. Says the agreement, "In the event that MAR occupies the Subject Property [Fair Park] past January 31, 2012, because of the existence of a force majeure on either the subject property or the Temporary Location, MAR shall pay the City $250.00 per day."

The agreement says the museum has to have "all of the collection" removed from Fair Park by the December 31 move-out date.

There are provisions in the lengthy settlement that would essentially turn over the collection to the city of Dallas if it appears a year from now that the museum has no intention of moving the trains. But that's a long way down the track -- and the museum's website continues to promise that tracks will be installed by "early 2012" to begin moving the collection to Frisco. All Bowers will say on the subject is: "We expect compliance with the agreement." I will post a copy of the settlement here as soon as I get it scanned.

Update at 5:35 p.m.: And here it is ...Executed Settlement Agreement
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21 comments
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Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

Frisco is so far away now it gets it's own area code?

How do you distinguish what is a "Frisco" number?

Robert Wilonsky
Robert Wilonsky

I refer to the new phone number for the Frisco HQ of the MAR.

Stillw
Stillw

Even the trains don't want to go to lead-contaminated flimsily-built Frisclosure.

dallasmay
dallasmay

Frisclosure?! HA! Consider that stolen. 

Guest
Guest

Maybe they haven't given up enough equity to get the trains moved.

Jessica
Jessica

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David Tuthill
David Tuthill

Always enjoyed the train museum.   Always visited it during the fair-a religious experience!   But now it is just another example of the city killing Fair Park.  

dallasmay
dallasmay

No it's not. You should read past articles about the history of this thing. The city offered them a lot of money for renovation and the museum turned them down. The guy is just a jerk. 

Nose2Much
Nose2Much

The city offered squat to the Museum other than hardball tactics and law suits. 

Alfredo
Alfredo

That was only after MAR declined the Dallas offer of bond funds and thought they had a better offer from Frisco.

williamedia
williamedia

At this rate I wonder if Dallas might get to keep the trains due to circumstances that the Museum "Staff" can not seem to over come. This is not a preferred solution because it means the city would have to find someone willing to take over management and plan a future for the train collection. Course it would mean the city could follow through with previous plans to build a train depot museum north of Fair Park if the current museum can not get its money in order.

Also doesn't the Museum have more trains than those currently crammed into that chunk of land in Fair Park? Don't they have many more trains in storage somewhere? Are they a part of this vacate clause contract they have with the city? Could the Museum simply vacate the property and leave the stuff in Fair Park and simply focus on getting the rest of their collection in storage moved to Frisco. 

Its obvious now that the Age of Steam Museum does not have enough follow through to make any progress and it seems like in some short future, within the next year, they could collapse as a organization for lack of funds like the Women's Museum and could leave the collection for the city to pick up the pieces. 

After all the city now has a empty Women's Museum Bldg, the city could temporarily use that building as new Age of Steam HQ since its right next door. Bring in someone to temporarily run some exhibits until they can find a group that really wants to manage a real train museum with a top notch collection that needs major restoration work.

cp
cp

"...plans to build a train depot museum north of Fair Park ..."I think that idea died along with Otto Wetzel...

Paul
Paul

Otto Wetzel was the West End scenario

The move to the Oldham Lumber site (north of the current location) was the scenario for the backing with City bond money

See also this earlier story from the Observer:

http://blogs.dallasobserver.co...

Paul
Paul

So sad ... what a waste of some wonderful history ...

dallasmay
dallasmay

Hmmm

$7,750 / month is pretty cheap rent for what's supposed to be a punishment.  I thought the owner said the city could have the trains if there weren't out by this past State Fair. 

Ed D.
Ed D.

They should move the trains to Dealey Plaza. I hear that thing rents out for $110/week, a relative bargain, and it's a great place to pick up the tourist trade.

Dallas Diner
Dallas Diner

How about putting them in Victory Plaza?  It seems to have a lot of empty space.

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

Where is this bunch going to come up with that kind of money ?

Frisco Watchdog
Frisco Watchdog

Absolutely no surprise here. LaPrelle has been leading everyone along for years, its members,  Fair Park, Dallas, Frisco, the press. Anyone who keeps a careful eye on this group has known for months, if not years that the Age of Steam was not going to be able to get out as promised, much less to raise the money needed to get anything built.

So what's next? Let's see we have an interlocking tower and the old Dallas depot, plus all those trains, signals, baggage carts, etc. all sitting exactly where they have been for years. A quick drive by of the facility for the last few months shows absolutely no activity, no preparation for a move, no personnel on site. It's almost as if Sir Toppem Hat has already left the Isle of Sodor and left poor Thomas and his friends to fend for theirself.

So what does good old Frisco have to say now? Sir Toppem Hat has sold them the preverbal bill of goods and now can't deliver. Hey Frisco... want to keep trusting this guy?

So now what? I hate to say it but this is what happens when the City of Dallas acts like they want to push a lawsuit, but then backs down. You could have owned the trains by now if like the Tin Man, "if you had only had a brain".

phe_75034
phe_75034

Sure hope you're wrong, Watchdog. I live not too terribly far from the to-be site of the MAR, and my kids and I are really looking forward to its arrival.

RW has done a far better job than pretty much any other outlet of keeping up with the ins-and-outs of this thing, but it's still difficult to discern the intentions of LaPrelle and the MAR from the Observer reporting. Does the MAR intend to move or not?

There's a ton of real assets in play here - engines, rail cars, etc - that have real value. There seems to be some money being donated to the Frisco site. You'd think things would be on track (sorry!), but nothing's moving.

What's the scoop here? Is LaPrelle a crook, as Watchdog seems to insinuate above? Or it is just damn complex trying to move all this stuff 30 miles up the line?

cp
cp

Bitter much?

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