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 Post subject: NJ Museum of Transportation Woes and Possible Eviction
PostPosted: Fri Mar 22, 2019 10:54 pm 

Joined: Mon Mar 20, 2017 5:26 pm
Posts: 362
Location: Pure Michigan
Since others had complained in the URHS thread that the discussion of the NJMT was off topic (I slightly agree); I have created a special thread just for it. I have attached the document that was originally shared by JR May in the URHS thread that explains the current situation.

Here are the facts (please call me out if I have these wrong, I am writing this very late):

The eviction process is in its infancy stages.

The state has determined already that the organization is no longer viable and have no intention of extending a lease to them.

It sounds like the site is not being maintained to the liking of the NJ DEP, and the museum is storing things improperly. (ITM all over again).

A license agreement was drafted (but not finalized) in 2017 to keep the museum on site. However, the museum never gave comments requested from the state.

One positive: the state wants to meet with the museum in Trenton to discuss the future. However this may only be a formality.

It appears the museum board has been difficult to work with and has chased away a lot of valuable members and volunteers (sound familiar?).

Also of interest, work on a 3 ft gauge 2-6-0 mogul has ceased after it was revealed boiler work was botched.

The museum owns 7 steam locomotives of different gauges and sizes, and several small diesel switcher locomotives. NJMT also has a nice collection of narrow gauge railroad cars (including an EBT combine).

I am just preparing for the worst. I do not want to see another ITM-like mass scrapping again.


Attachments:
March 2019 Letter 20190304145656885.pdf [788.93 KiB]
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 Post subject: Re: NJ Museum of Transportation Woes and Possible Eviction
PostPosted: Sat Mar 23, 2019 7:39 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 9:18 am
Posts: 566
Location: Wall, NJ
NS3322, nice summary of the situation. Probably fairly accurate.

Not sure I would say the boiler work on the #46 was botched as that tends to suggest a black eye on the people who did the actual work. Its really a case of how the R-Stamp was managed, again a result of good people being driven off the property. NJMT was the first all volunteer R-Stamp shop that I am aware of and NJMT seems to have proven that a volunteer group holding such a stamp is indeed not workable.

Key to the salvation of NJMT is youth, much of which has been driven off over the last ten years by the current management for what ever odd reason. As we look at younger people like Jason Sobcyzynski, Nick Hovey and the younger guys helping Rick Rowlands, not to mention Rick himself, plus others up at Boothbay and WW&F, the world of steam preservation is indeed good hands, BUT only if given the opportunity. NJMT had such potential, but all were driven off, only to go to other locations and do great things. NJMT's loss has been the gain of Black River, the A&A, etc.

There is a discussion ongoing on facebook at Ahead of the Torch, driven largely by youth.
(https://www.facebook.com/groups/AOTTORCH)

As we look also at the URHS topic here on RyPN, the key is, again, youth. What are the new ideas that the under 40 crowd might bring?

And why do I suggest youth as the answer? I recall one particular young member of NJMT saying, as things fell apart at NJMT in 2004/05, that "it was the infighting among the old guys" that killed the place. No truer words have been spoken. A lesson for every volunteer organization.

Things certainly do not look good. Will be interesting to see if they can work something out, but no matter which way it goes, it sounds like a "thinning" of the collection will be required if not liquidated in total.

J.R. May
NJMT Member from 1972- to when ever in the mid 2000's
Trustee 1993-2004
Chairman of the Board 2000-2004
Have sworn to never, ever volunteer again anywhere (although happy to help on occassion!).


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 Post subject: Re: NJ Museum of Transportation Woes and Possible Eviction
PostPosted: Sat Mar 23, 2019 8:00 pm 

Joined: Tue Aug 24, 2004 10:34 pm
Posts: 725
Not familiar with NJMT, too bad sounds like it had a lot of potential. I know of a similar place.

I swear it is a virus. One of the scary symptoms is the people involved do not and cannot see their own involvement. The infected people are always the other guy. If I can back stab better and louder than I win? It is a twisted approach that doesn't work. But it took me a long time to get it so it seems to be for others as well? Regards, John.


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 Post subject: Re: NJ Museum of Transportation Woes and Possible Eviction
PostPosted: Sat Mar 23, 2019 8:27 pm 

Joined: Tue Jul 12, 2016 6:12 pm
Posts: 153
I agree that we have to attract more young people. Many of our members have passed, or have become infirm.
I am 80, my copilot is 75, and we are restoring that 23 ton GE switcher. I have heard no offers from any young people to help.


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 Post subject: Re: NJ Museum of Transportation Woes and Possible Eviction
PostPosted: Sat Mar 23, 2019 11:47 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 26, 2010 11:43 am
Posts: 604
The young folks can smell the stench of infighting, elitism, disarray, and decay. Actually, older potential volunteers can smell it too. I'm freeking sick and tired of people saying young people don't volunteer. If you think that is true, your head is WAY too far up your ass to see the truth.


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 Post subject: Re: NJ Museum of Transportation Woes and Possible Eviction
PostPosted: Sun Mar 24, 2019 4:17 pm 

Joined: Sat Jan 21, 2012 10:03 pm
Posts: 153
Location: Pennsylvania
Th fact of the matter is that NJMT is an extremely poorly managed organization. From what I've heard, NJMT's management drove off many of its most enthusiastic, talented, and younger volunteers. The prevailing attitude I get from them is they have a major case of "my way or the highway" mentality. The only thing they seem to be concerned about is running the train and nothing more.

Looking at the Ahead of the Torch thread on FB, many of the former volunteers are saying that if you want to save anything from NJMT, now is the time to do it. A few even implied they wouldn't put it past NJMT management to just scrap everything out of spite.

Sad but true.


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 Post subject: Re: NJ Museum of Transportation Woes and Possible Eviction
PostPosted: Sun Mar 24, 2019 7:41 pm 

Joined: Tue Jan 30, 2018 12:43 am
Posts: 7
Does anyone know if the remains of the last surviving argent cars are still at NJMT?


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 Post subject: Re: NJ Museum of Transportation Woes and Possible Eviction
PostPosted: Mon Mar 25, 2019 4:32 am 

Joined: Mon Aug 18, 2008 11:48 pm
Posts: 55
Location: Watchung, NJ
Good morning everyone,

I've read through this thread with a somewhat influenced bias. J.R. had previously given me a little background information about this situation well before it became public knowledge. In fairness, I would normally reserve judgement because we have not yet heard from the other side. However, I have zero reason to doubt what I have been told, so I confess my bias from the start.

In a recent Facebook post I made, I suggested we change the dialogue of the thread from addressing the wounds which lead to this problem, to one of -- how do we intervene in an appropriate manner to save the attraction from destruction?

I know J.R, (and the many other people who have a soft spot for this wonderful 60 year old attraction) would hate to see the State of NJ throw the attraction off of the land and vanquish it to the history books forever. So I pose the question -- what can be done to save the attraction if the problem is, in fact, the current management team? Any thoughts?

Based on what I read in the letter, the State appears to be clearly frustrated, but their tone suggests that they are mad at the current management, not at the attraction itself. This is a critical point to make note of. It appears that the State has not yet reached the point of deciding that the entire attraction must go.

So, is there a way forward that might be pursued in lieu of calling the vultures for a "fire sale" prematurely?

_________________
Eric S. Strohmeyer
CNJ Rail Corporation


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 Post subject: Re: NJ Museum of Transportation Woes and Possible Eviction
PostPosted: Mon Mar 25, 2019 10:45 am 

Joined: Thu Feb 27, 2014 10:08 am
Posts: 463
Mr. Strohmeyer - Some thoughts with regards to your inquiry.

I am inferring from the other posts in this and other threads that reaching out to Mr. Nash and Ms. Lubrant and offering assistance with their current issues with NJDEP’s Natural & Historic Resources Office of Leases and Concessions is not an option.

Put all of the talk about poor personnel management aside. That is important from a preservation management perspective but is likely of no interest to the State’s administrative staff. Stick to the issues raised in the letter dated 3-4-19:

1. NJMT is in breach of their lease agreement because, as of the date of the letter, they had not submitted their annual report, other required 2018 financial information, and the 2019 annual Work Plan, inspections, and budget.
2. The State has not yet offered NJMT a new lease and alleges lack of site maintenance and the storage of certain equipment and materials on the site without the required permissions.
3. NJMT has not properly and fully responded to a draft lease agreement proffered in 2017.

The tone and wording of the letter, and the State’s repeated efforts to resolve any lease issues, indicates that the State wants to work with NJMT but that they are not being cooperative. Pine Creek is an asset the State would rather not lose but the current operator’s intransigence is leaving the State no other option.

A potential first step would be for a credible person to reach out to Mr. Chidley. Give him reassurances that you share the State’s view that the Pine Creek is an important NJ community asset, express appreciation for his and his office’s efforts to bring the situation to a resolution in a manner that preserves this asset, and offer to assist his efforts in any way possible. In particular, give him a brief overview of the implosion at ITM, drawing strongly on the parallels between what happened at ITM and the issues (1-3) as outlined in his letter, as your motivation for reaching out and possibly getting involved. Stick to the facts and steer clear of opining on the skill/motivations of the management of either ITM or NJMT

NJMT has a current 2019 schedule posted on their website, so it is important to first ask Mr. Chidley if he could share an update as to whether or not any of the required documentation has been received or if the requested meeting contact information was provided by the 3-15 deadline. It may also be useful to get more details regarding the alleged lack of maintenance and unauthorized storage. Are their any hazmat issues and, if so, has NJDEP performed an inspection of the site or do they intend to inspect and initiate any enforcement action?

Of course, do this all with discretion. Media involvement may be an asset at some later date but is likely not wise until an assessment of the situation has been made and a clear strategy that NJDEP supports has been devised.

I agree with JR May that this situation is important to certain issues relating to the larger picture of NJ transportation historic preservation.


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 Post subject: Re: NJ Museum of Transportation Woes and Possible Eviction
PostPosted: Mon Mar 25, 2019 11:57 am 

Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2016 10:33 pm
Posts: 5
What a shame. I have fond memories of going there as a kid and working as a volunteer.

I volunteered there through most of High School. Learned the ins and outs of proper track work, diesel mechanics and even re-tiring a steam engine (#26), an absolutely fantastic experience. When I left to go to college in 2002, the in-fighting among senior members was definitely apparent, and honestly a detriment to wanting to spend more time there. I really just wanted to learn and not have to 'choose sides' between senior members who were feuding.


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 Post subject: Re: NJ Museum of Transportation Woes and Possible Eviction
PostPosted: Mon Mar 25, 2019 1:16 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 9:18 am
Posts: 566
Location: Wall, NJ
> Stick to the issues raised in the letter dated 3-4-19:

A couple of corrections/comments:

1) Probably a key point to make is that the March 2019 letter is just one of many letters from the DEP to NJMT going back years now. This is not the first letter of its kind to be sent to NJMT, but probably the most serious.

2) Lease versus license...you have to watch your wording here. Leases are no longer used by the State. Its licenses only. This was a point made to NJMT by the DEP back in the 2003 time frame when I signed the last ten year extension of the old lease which expired in 2013. The change to a license is not new. In fact at the time, it was suggested by the local regional DEP superintendent that we look at buying the property from the state. In short, the idea of a long term lease was a dead issue 16 years ago.

The truth is, this is still a battle of the minds. Calling Mr. Chidley is not of help as the make up of the NJMT board is not something he can do anything about. What is needed is a respected individual to work with the current NJMT management during this license process and then to help re-invent the organization itself starting with the by-laws and working from there.

See attached from August 2015, with reference going back to 2010. This has been going on for years now.


J.R.


Attachments:
DEP Letter August 2015.pdf [797.15 KiB]
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 Post subject: Re: NJ Museum of Transportation Woes and Possible Eviction
PostPosted: Mon Mar 25, 2019 2:14 pm 

Joined: Mon Dec 07, 2015 7:01 pm
Posts: 5
I would be happy to take Raritan Copper Works No. 9 off of their hands....


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 Post subject: Re: NJ Museum of Transportation Woes and Possible Eviction
PostPosted: Mon Mar 25, 2019 2:30 pm 

Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2005 9:34 pm
Posts: 2267
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
You know what is really sad? In this case and the ITM case, it is hard to see how most of the requests of the managing authority are controversial. They want you to file the paperwork, they want you to keep the location clean and safe, and they want you to maintain good relations with neighboring users.

Why is that something to fight about?

_________________
Steven Harrod
Lektor
Danmarks Tekniske Universitet
Institut for Systemer, Produktion, og Ledelse


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 Post subject: Re: NJ Museum of Transportation Woes and Possible Eviction
PostPosted: Mon Mar 25, 2019 3:05 pm 

Joined: Thu Feb 27, 2014 10:08 am
Posts: 463
JR - Since the recent letter cites a proposed draft that was sent two years ago I took it that the back and forth has been going on for a while, but thanks for the further documentation.

Yes, I missed the conversion to licenses from leases. My recommendation would be that the office get new letterhead as they can not be an Office of Leases and Concessions if they no longer use leases, eh?

My read of your posts and others that profess to have first-hand information is that the current management team will not consult with or take anything under advisement that does not come from their own inner circle. So your point about a respected individual that can work with the NJMT management to get them through the process and reinvent themselves puzzles me.

I agree that the growing challenges faced by NJMT are tied to the bigger picture, and that is another reason I suggested utilizing this situation to cultivate a relationship with the State DEP.

How's the cabin car coming along?


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 Post subject: Re: NJ Museum of Transportation Woes and Possible Eviction
PostPosted: Mon Mar 25, 2019 3:26 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 9:18 am
Posts: 566
Location: Wall, NJ
> How's the cabin car coming along?

Coming along great. Frame is done, sub sills are done, sub floor is done, and one end wall is half done. Many thanks to the wood working talents of Ed Rizzo in making this possible! Once the end wall is framed up in total we will post a photo. For this first end, we are reusing the wall from the original caboose. The other end will be all new. Just about all the windows have been restored or made new by Ed in his home shop and work will commence shortly on the original doors. Trying to use as much original fabric as possible in this major rebuild.

Thanks for asking!

J.R.


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