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LETTER: Nickel Plate plan won’t work

September 9, 2017

After reading the recent IBJ article discussing the Nickel Plate Heritage Railroad, I must weigh-in [Northern Hamilton County hopes to cash in on tourism with new train excursions, Aug. 26].

I’m convinced the NPHR will ultimately lead to the demise of the entire railroad. If you’re unconvinced, perhaps the words of Brenda Myers, the president of Hamilton County Tourism and architect of the NPHR proposal, will convince you. In 2016, Myers sent an email to Noblesville Mayor John Ditslear saying, “The only way to make it [excursion train] make money is to move south and north…”  Note, this conversation with city officials began five months before the RFP was announced by the Hoosier Heritage Port Authority.

Also noteworthy, the NPHR doesn’t have any equipment of its own. Within their proposal submitted to the HHPA, they discuss the sale and disposal of equipment in Forest Park. Incidentally, they are referring to equipment belonging to the Indiana Transportation Museum. How exactly does the NPHR position itself to become the owner of ITM’s equipment?

Even with probable heavy subsidies from Hamilton County Tourism, the NPHR also faces likely failure due to lack of revenue and high operating costs, problems inherent of running only north. It’s unacceptable to consider the NPHR as a viable operator—especially when four other operators proposed using the entire railroad.

Why is the planning of this regional infrastructure vulnerable to the desires of a few mayors and commissioners? There has been a clear lack of transparency and public input regarding every aspect of the proposal to convert the Nickel Plate Railroad to a trail. The fact that elected officials in Hamilton County have proven too irresponsible to properly care for this corridor doesn’t mean the community can’t take the lead in this matter. You can—and should—take a stand!

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Logan Day, member
Save the Nickel Plate

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