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Railroad Museum President Is Baffled By City Hall's Rush to Get Trains Out of Fair Park

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I just spoke with Museum of the American Railroad president and CEO Bob LaPrelle about the city's lawsuit that demands the train museum get out of Fair Park by no later than August 1. Despite the museum's April 2008 announcement that it was moving to Frisco, LaPrelle says the city's being unreasonable: "There's too much planning and engineering work [required] in Frisco, and we have 4,500 tons of trains to move. And we're a nonprofit, and it's tough to raise funds in this economy."

LaPrelle says he's always been "very clear" with the city about how much time he needs to move -- till at least the end of 2010, he says, if not well into 2011. But, he says, the city set an August 1, 2010, deadline, and that is simply "unrealistic."

"Dallas has not been very happy since our decision to move to Frisco," he says, "and it's been tough sledding since then. We've got folks unhappy with our decision, but we're still trying to sort it all out. We're trying to work through all this and see what we can do." He says the museum's in the process of hiring an attorney so it can respond to the application for an injunction.

But here's the real mystery: Why in the world is the city so dead-set on forcing one of its few year-round attractions out of Fair Park? After all, it's hoping to fill the Band Shell and Grand Place with rent-free deals with a concert promoter and a car museum, respectively. Shouldn't the city want to keep the train museum on the property -- in more or less an out-of-the-way parking lot off Perry Avenue -- as long as possible? I asked LaPrelle why he thinks the city's in such a hurry.

"We don't know," he says. "That's a good question. There's a certain councilman behind this. We don' t get it either. The whole thing is really bizarre."

And, yes, LaPrelle named the council member. I've called the council member, who's in a meeting. When this council member responds, I will name this council member. Till then, then.

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