City Hall

Train Museum Was to Roll Out of Fair Park By Saturday. That Won't Happen. Now What?

Just checked the calendar and noticed: The Museum of the American Railroad should be rolled outta Fair Park by ... well, by Saturday, would you look at that. Except, no: Two years after the city sued the train museum, telling it to chugga-chugga thee to those new digs in Frisco or a temporary holding spot so it could free up land for the State Fair of Texas, the trains still sit on city property. The museum closed up shop in mid-November in anticipation of its move, but that's more or less the extent of it doings -- save for a release a few days ago concerning a $20,000 donation from Richard and Alice Bass for the Frisco digs.

Messages have been left for Museum of the American Railroad President and CEO Bob LaPrelle, who's now got a Frisco phone number; attorney William Brotherton, who repped the museum in its legal wranglings with City Hall, is out of town till tomorrow. But First Assistant City Attorney Chris Bowers says the city's been told the museum has run into some "unexpected problems" and has asked the city for more time.

Which it can do: The settlement agreement between the city and museum, which was not included in public court filings, allows for an extension -- but with penalties.

As in, starting January 1, the museum will have to pay the city $100 for every day the trains stay on the property. But that deal is only good through January 31, 2013. Says the agreement, "In the event that MAR occupies the Subject Property [Fair Park] past January 31, 2012, because of the existence of a force majeure on either the subject property or the Temporary Location, MAR shall pay the City $250.00 per day."

The agreement says the museum has to have "all of the collection" removed from Fair Park by the December 31 move-out date.

There are provisions in the lengthy settlement that would essentially turn over the collection to the city of Dallas if it appears a year from now that the museum has no intention of moving the trains. But that's a long way down the track -- and the museum's website continues to promise that tracks will be installed by "early 2012" to begin moving the collection to Frisco. All Bowers will say on the subject is: "We expect compliance with the agreement." I will post a copy of the settlement here as soon as I get it scanned.

Update at 5:35 p.m.: And here it is ...Executed Settlement Agreement

KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky