City of Noblesville Chooses to Not Renew Lease with Indiana Transportation Museum

12/20/2017

Preparations underway to bring future Nickel Plate Express train to Forest Park

The Noblesville Parks and Recreation Board, with full support of the City of Noblesville administration, has elected not to renew its lease with the Indiana Transportation Museum (ITM) when it expires on March 1, 2018. The unanimous decision by the Parks Board was made this morning.

“The City of Noblesville is taking these proactive measures now to protect our residents and our heritage, to ensure Forest Park is cleaned up and to bring the trains back to our community with a new operator – the Nickel Plate Express,” Noblesville Mayor John Ditslear said.

Since its selection as the new rail operator in July, the city and Nickel Plate Heritage Railroad have had active discussions to ensure the Nickel Plate Express excursion train includes Noblesville in its operations, which are slated to begin in 2018 between Atlanta and Arcadia and could extend south to Noblesville starting in 2019. Forest Park is expected to become a major stop.

“With one rail line, there should be just one operator,” said Ditslear. “The ITM has not shown good stewardship with the resources entrusted to them for more than fifty years. The city is excited to be working with the Nickel Plate Heritage Railroad to continue the city’s railroad history and bring the trains back to Forest Park as a safe, clean and fun tourist attraction that connects Noblesville with our neighbors in northern Hamilton County.”

Since the city notified Indiana Department of Environmental Management about potential environmental problems in May, IDEM has conducted three follow-up investigations and the Environmental Protection Agency has completed one. All four have found violations including PCBs and several cars also are believed to contain asbestos, which is currently under further analysis. The ITM also self-inventoried 1,064 items for waste containment and disposal.

“We expect full cooperation from the ITM to ensure a smooth transition as they finalize their clean-up efforts and move their operations outside of Forest Park,” said Parks Board President Scott Noel.

Upon termination of the Lease Agreement on March 1, 2018, ITM is required to remove all of its equipment and return the premises back to the Parks Board in a clean, sightly, healthful condition, and in good repair. The City anticipates that additional time to fully vacate and repair the premises may be desired, and is willing to discuss further accommodations with ITM leadership.

The notice of non-renewal does not impact ITM’s obligation to investigate and remediate environmental contamination at the property through coordination of IDEM. This obligation is contractually mandated by the terms of the Lease Agreement and the city believes the financial burden should not be passed along to taxpayers. 

For more background information on ITM at Forest Park, including environmental site inspection reports and more, visit http://bit.ly/2BENfDG.