Letters

Letters 12-05-2016

Trump going back on promises I’m beginning to suspect that we’ve been conned by our new president. He’s backpedaling on nearly every campaign promise he made to us...

This Christmas, think before you speak Now that Trump has won the election, a lot of folks who call themselves Christians seem to believe they have a mandate to force their beliefs on the rest of us. Think about doing this before you start yelling about people saying “happy holidays,” whining about Starbucks coffee cup image(s), complaining about other’s lifestyles…

First Amendment protects prayer (Re: Atheist Gary Singer’s contribution to the Crossed column titled “What will it take to make America great again?” in the Nov. 21 edition of Northern Express.) Mr. Singer, the First Amendment states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …”

Evidence of global warming Two basic facts underlay climate science: first, carbon dioxide was known to be a heat-trapping gas as early as 1850; and second, humans are significantly increasing the amount of CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels and other activities. We are in fact well on our way to doubling the CO2 concentrations in our atmosphere...

Other community backpack programs I just read your article in the Nov. 28 issue titled “Beneficial backpacks: Two local programs help children.” It is a good article, but there are at least two other such programs in the Traverse City area that I am aware of...

A ‘fox’ in the schoolhouse Trump’s proposed secretary of education, Betsy DeVos (“the fox” in Dutch), is a right-wing billionaire; relentless promoter of unlimited, unregulated charter schools and vouchers; and enemy of public schooling...

Home · Articles · News · Features · Train derailed?
. . . .

Train derailed?

Patrick Sullivan - July 11th, 2011
Train Derailed? Future of the Spirit of Traverse City is in doubt
By Patrick Sullivan
Opposition to the city’s plan to remove the Spirit of Traverse City from
Clinch Park is gaining steam.
In the meantime, while the mini train could be figuratively derailed by
the end of this summer, or otherwise moved someplace else, it literally
derailed and part of it tipped over on July 4. The train was back in
service Wednesday after repairs.
Michelle Hazard started the Facebook group Save the Spirit of Traverse
City after she discovered the train had been removed from the city’s
bayfront plan and was not expected to return in 2012.
The group has generated hundreds of comments and prompted nearly 1,500
people to hit the “like” button.
“I’m a relatively new resident, but one of the first things I did when I
came up here was go to Clinch Park and take pictures of the train and its
passengers and I thought what a neat thing it was,” Hazard said. “The
train was part of the process of deciding I wanted to move here.”

CITY RESPONSE
At a meeting Tuesday, the city commission responded to the uproar.
Commissioners agreed to ask the architects to try to design the train back
into the bayfront plan, Mayor Christopher Bzdok said.
Planners may also seek an alternate spot for the train, he said.
“The ‘uproar’ is good for local morning radio, which seems to be
generating it, but the parks commission has been and continues to be
working on a solution,” Bzdok said.
In fact, Hazard said the spokesman for the Save the Sprit of TC group is
Jack O’Malley, a morning DJ at WTCM.
Jim Carruthers, a city commissioner, said he believes the train should be
saved because of its historical significance.
“Everybody seems to have a memory of that train,” Carruthers said. “Don’t
we want to preserve our history in some way?”
Carruthers hears the train from his home on 11th Street and believes it
adds to the character of the city.
He said he isn’t sure how many of the train supporters are actually city
residents, though. Many of them, he suspects, are tourists or people who
live out of town.

SUPPORT COMES LATE
Some say the public outcry in favor of the train is coming a little late.
Gary Howe, a parks and recreation commissioner and smart growth advocate
on his blog, mywheelsareturning.com, said there were numerous
opportunities for people to voice their feelings about the train during
the bayfront planning process.
During those public hearings, the train didn’t receive a lot of support,
he said.
“The design/engineering firm played with many different ideas and in the
end couldn’t make it work with all the other elements and goals that came
out of an exhaustive public process that included a lot of volunteer hours
by a lot of people,” Howe said.
Howe said it was determined that including the train would ultimately mean
too many sacrifices would have to be made to a well-though-out plan to
make the bayfront more usable.
“There wasn’t a large outcry demanding the city to design around the
train,” Howe said. “In fact, many people were indifferent, if not
supportive of moving forward without the train.”

BAYFRONT DESIGN
Lauren Vaughn, Traverse City Parks and Recreation superintendent, agrees
the decision to remove the train came down to design.
“When (the design firm) got to the final design work, they felt that it
just didn’t fit well,” Vaughn said.
New features such as the splash pad proposed for TC’s bayfront are also
expected to bring more children to the area, increasing safety concerns,
he said.
Cost of the train didn’t factor into the decision to remove it, Vaughn
said. He said in the past few years the train has operated at a deficit of
roughly around $5,000 to $10,000 per year.
Carruthers said even though he was a part of the bayfront planning process
he doesn’t understand how the train was removed from the plans.
“I do remember the meetings where one week it was there and the next
meeting it wasn’t,” he said.
He shares the concern of critics about the lack of public discussion
leading to the removal of the train.
“Designers can design around things,” he said. “They just felt it would be
easier to come in and have a clean slate.”

LITERAL DERAILMENT
The train literally derailed on July 4. Vaughn said no injuries were
reported.
There is an array of possible causes for the derailment -- a coin or a
rock could have caused the train to leave the rails, or the movement of
passengers could have caused the car to tip, he said.
Vaughn said minor derailments that involve the train coming off the tracks
but not tipping over are not uncommon, but he’s never heard of the train
tipping over like it did last week.
“This is my 20th year and I can’t remember any time when a train car has
tipped over like that,” Vaughn said.
The Spirit of Traverse City has been a part of TC’s history since the
early 1980s.
In 1970 a local resident purchased the locomotive from an owner in
California, according to the city’s website.
The man attempted to set it up on his property on Elk Lake but his family
soon lost interest and the train was for sale again.
The city purchased the train in 1979 and it went into service at Clinch
Park in 1982, renamed the Spirit of Traverse City.
 
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