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August 28, 2017

Narrow Gauge Railroad gets brief reprieve as it seeks a permanent home

Photo / Maureen Milliken
Photo / Maureen Milliken
The Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad and Museum will remain on Portland's eastern waterfront through November after the director renewed the lease with CPB2 LLC, which plans to develop the 58 Fore St. site.

The Maine Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Co. and Museum extended its presence on the waterfront near Portland's Eastern Promenade for three more months as the $250 million 58 Fore St. development project moves forward.

The Munjoy Hill News reported that Donnie Carroll, director of the railroad company and museum, said he has renewed the mini-railroad's lease through the end of November — adding that he hopes for another extension following that one from CPB2 LLC, the company developing the 58 Fore St. property at which the railroad is located. As unveiled in September, CPB2's plan involves a more than 1-million-square-foot development that includes 638 residential units for sale and for rent, 132 hotel rooms, 59,873 square feet of retail space and 123,917 square feet of office space. A 13-acre marina for transient and seasonal boaters also is envisioned.

The railroad, which has 24-inch-wide tracks and runs 1.5 miles up the shore of Casco Bay, was installed on the site in the 1990s by volunteers, who purchased it from the Edaville Railroad in South Carver, Mass. It's been looking for a new home for seven years.

The group had been looking at a plot of land in Gray, but the town voted down a $498,000 grant request in November. A sub-committee of the mini-railroad board plans to meet with the land's owner, Dan Craffey, next month to discuss a purchase-and-sale agreement for the 25 acres, the Munjoy Hill News reported.

Carroll said discussions are under way for a capital campaign to raise $7 million to relocate the train and build a new museum. He said a location to store the train also must be found.

"We are trying to stay in Portland," he told the Munjoy Hill News. "It's always something that appeals to us. But it's about money. It's always about money."

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