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City rules derail Plymouth museum's plans to buy a caboose

Unread postPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2018 12:28 am
by GP30M4216
CSXT 903261 has been based in Plymouth since at least the late 90s....
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903261 photo by N. Nietering, Chessie Chapter collection

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City rules derail Plymouth museum's plans to buy a caboose
Brad Kadrich, Hometownlife.com Published 9:31 a.m. ET June 14, 2018
https://www.hometownlife.com/story/life/community/observer/plymouth/2018/06/14/ordinance-could-derail-plymouth-museums-chance-piece-history/693494002/

An effort by Plymouth Historical Museum officials to obtain a piece of what everyone agrees is a representative piece of Plymouth life — a working train caboose — could get stalled on the tracks by city ordinances.

The museum's executive director, Liz Kelley Kerstens, said CSX has offered to sell the museum one of two cabooses currently sitting in the train yard in Plymouth, to display at the museum.

Kerstens said the plan would be to display the caboose in front of the museum — the only space available on-site — and make it available for observation and tours. Considering anyone who has lived in Plymouth for any length of time knows all about trains, Kerstens believes it would be a huge draw and a big boost to the museum's presence.

"Cabooses are going away, no one is using them anymore and this has a lot of history in Plymouth," Kerstens said.

The caboose is functional, although it needs work. The outside needs repainting and the inside needs some upholstery work and a good amount of cleanup.

The caboose, complete with cupola, weighs some 55,000 pounds, is 38 feet long, 10 feet wide and 15 feet tall.

CSX doesn't use a caboose any longer and will likely auction off the two sitting in its Plymouth yard, Kerstens said, unless the museum takes one.

Mike Woloszyk, the museum's marketing director, said the caboose would likely be a "big draw" for the museum.

"We're a train city," Woloszyk said. "It'll be a draw. People will obviously notice it (sitting in front of the museum). It's an eye-opener. And with people coming to see the caboose, they'll get a chance to see the museum. It'd be fun."

The problem? City ordinances won't allow the display. Community development director John Buzuvis said the caboose would be considered an "accessory building," which isn't allowed in the front of a building.

After talking with everyone from the building official to City Manager Paul SIncock, Buzuvis said he "couldn't find anything" that would allow the display.

"It's the precedent," Buzuvis said. "If we let them have a caboose, then when other groups want something, we've set a precedent."

With no space anywhere else on-site at the museum, there are a couple of options:

One is putting the caboose somewhere off-site, such as behind the PARC property across the street. But Kerstens pointed out that would make it difficult to maintain and awkward for sponsoring tours.

"There are other places it could go, but it would be hard for us to maintain it and to give tours," Kerstens said.

Another options is for a variance to the ordinance. That would require the request to meet several criteria, including proving a "hardship" to the museum if the request is denied, something both Kerstens and Buzuvis agree is likely to happen if a variance is requested.

Buzuvis has been working with Dave Latawiec, a member of the museum's board of directors, who seemed resigned to the idea a variance would be denied.

"Everyone is very interested in the caboose," Latawiec said. "It's a matter of finding a place for it."

For now, Kerstens and her team are still examining ways to make it happen. Kerstens deeply believes it would add greatly to the museum's visibility.

"Cabooses are a thing of the past," Kerstens said. "When I was a kid, I couldn't wait for the caboose to wave at the guy on the back of the train. Cabooses have a very romantic past."

Re: City rules derail Plymouth museum's plans to buy a caboo

Unread postPosted: Sat Jun 30, 2018 7:48 pm
by M.D.Bentley
The LAST thing anyone in the city wants ( other than the museum ) is something that represents the thing that cuts their city in half multiple times a day . Is some discarded railroad equipment. Evil railroad trying to improve their image :D

Re: City rules derail Plymouth museum's plans to buy a caboo

Unread postPosted: Sat May 18, 2019 8:32 am
by Michael
The museum was able to obtain the variance needed and will in fact have the caboose on their own property just behind the museum.
The museum is also looking for donations to cover the cost of both the move and the restoration of the caboose.
http://www.plymouthhistory.org/Save-the-Caboose-Fundraisers_AE36.html

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Re: City rules derail Plymouth museum's plans to buy a caboo

Unread postPosted: Sat May 18, 2019 10:44 am
by Standard Railfan
I am wondering why the city of Plymouth would consider a vehicle a building.

Re: City rules derail Plymouth museum's plans to buy a caboo

Unread postPosted: Sat May 18, 2019 11:29 am
by Saturnalia
Standard Railfan wrote:I am wondering why the city of Plymouth would consider a vehicle a building.

And that the city would be so stingy in the first place. “We all want this but our rules say no.” You’re the city: you can change/bend the rules if you really think it’s a good idea.

Always laugh when the legislature says they can’t legislate.

Re: City rules derail Plymouth museum's plans to buy a caboo

Unread postPosted: Sat May 18, 2019 3:51 pm
by Doktor No
Saturnalia wrote:
Standard Railfan wrote:I am wondering why the city of Plymouth would consider a vehicle a building.

And that the city would be so stingy in the first place. “We all want this but our rules say no.” You’re the city: you can change/bend the rules if you really think it’s a good idea.

Always laugh when the legislature says they can’t legislate.

Havn't been to too many township/city/county meetings have you? They CANNOT BEND the rules...then you pretty much no longer have rules do you? Everyone would want the rules BENT for them and then its chaos.
What you can do is request a variance to the rules. Not that hard to do, hearings, commentary session...viola, yea or nay. THATS what one has to do. So just do it.

Re: City rules derail Plymouth museum's plans to buy a caboo

Unread postPosted: Sat May 18, 2019 11:33 pm
by trainjunkie47
Standard Railfan wrote:I am wondering why the city of Plymouth would consider a vehicle a building.


Unless the caboose is maintained in an operational state.....and.... the caboose is parked on a spur which can access the CSX system, then it is a building, instead of a vehicle.

Re: City rules derail Plymouth museum's plans to buy a caboo

Unread postPosted: Sun May 19, 2019 1:24 am
by justalurker66
Standard Railfan wrote:I am wondering why the city of Plymouth would consider a vehicle a building.

It will be used as an accessory building. There is probably some ordinance prohibiting vehicles being permanently parked where they wanted to put the caboose. One way or another, they need to "break the rules" ... and the only way to legally break the rules is to get a variance.


Saturnalia wrote:
Standard Railfan wrote:“We all want this but our rules say no.” You’re the city: you can change/bend the rules if you really think it’s a good idea.

Technically, they did. They gave the museum a variance from the rules. Not for the location where the museum originally wanted to put the caboose, but at least it is on site.

The rules that prevent chaos include rules that allow for exceptions. There are risks when exceptions are granted. In this case "we all want this" made it a popular choice. But now a door is open for someone to make a similar request that "we all don't want". That is the challenge when a variance is granted. For example, say a city writes a zoning rule that states an accessory building must be 100 square feet or less and at least 10 ft away from all property lines. Someone wants a 12x10 building with five foot setback. The city grants a variance. Next month another resident asks for a 12x10 building with a five foot setback. It the city denies the variance they need to explain why. And the explanation can't be that the city is biased toward the first resident and against the second. If they are smart, they should grant the variance in such a way that is so narrowly defined that it does not open the floodgates for other residents. For example, requiring the approval of all adjacent landowners.

Re: City rules derail Plymouth museum's plans to buy a caboo

Unread postPosted: Sun May 19, 2019 8:28 am
by Doktor No
Exactly Lurker and Junkie, exactly.

Re: City rules derail Plymouth museum's plans to buy a caboo

Unread postPosted: Sun Jun 23, 2019 8:44 pm
by Sean N
They were putting the caboose in behind the museum tonight.

Re: City rules derail Plymouth museum's plans to buy a caboo

Unread postPosted: Mon Jun 24, 2019 3:17 pm
by Michael
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Re: City rules derail Plymouth museum's plans to buy a caboo

Unread postPosted: Mon Jun 24, 2019 8:33 pm
by justalurker66
I love it when a plan comes together. Congrats!

Re: City rules derail Plymouth museum's plans to buy a caboo

Unread postPosted: Tue Jun 25, 2019 10:12 pm
by GTW6401
The old depot in Plymouth is also being repainted red. They were working on today when I drove by.

Re: City rules derail Plymouth museum's plans to buy a caboo

Unread postPosted: Wed Jul 10, 2019 11:53 am
by Michael
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Re: City rules derail Plymouth museum's plans to buy a caboo

Unread postPosted: Mon Jul 15, 2019 1:54 am
by MQT1223
Michael wrote:Image
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And 4 years later I would be born on the same date!