The following is a transcript of Mayor Harry Wyant's re-election speech given on October 25, 2003 in front of the former Central of New Jersey railroad station. He gave the speech at 3:30pm during the Pumpkin Festival.
The Phillipsburg Railroad Museum
Today, we embark upon a new path. It is clear that Trenton has little interest in taking a leadership role in transportation history. In fact all of our efforts have been met with road blocks. It is up to Phillipsburg to provide leadership and control our own destiny.
Over the next four years, I pledge that my administration will create a railroad museum in Phillipsburg. It will be built on land owned or controlled by the Town. The resources we will use are readily obtainable. They will include UEZ funds, TEA-21 funding from the federal government and our own capital budget. We will draw upon our many volunteers in the Phillipsburg Railroad Historians and seek assistance from the Friends of the New Jersey Transportation Heritage Center among others.
By taking the initiative, we do not in any way turn our back on those who continue the fight to establish a New Jersey Rail and Transportation Museum in Phillipsburg along the Delaware River. My administration will continue to cooperate and join in their efforts. We admire the perseverance of those rail fans that have been in this fight for nearly fifteen years. But, we simply refuse to wait for the State of New Jersey any longer.
Our pledge is a simple one and an achievable one. Our vision will link our business district to the Delaware River and bring tourism to our town. This vision will be completed within the next four years.
The physical plan consists of the following attractions:
1) a rail excursion along the Delaware River from Phillipsburg to Carpentersville on an Edwards Rail Car operated by the Bel-Del Railroad,
2) an expanded Centerville & Southwestern miniature railroad ride to the PU tower at the Black Bridge and continuing under the Bridge to the Delaware River Park,
3) a restored authentic signal tower on the east side of the Black Bridge,
4) a turntable and roundhouse built upon existing infrastructure on municipal property,
5) display tracks for historic railroad cars,
6) an authentically restored Central Railroad station for display and archives,
7) a gift shop,
8) an equipment maintenance facility and
9) a parking facility
Some of the attractions listed above are already in place or under construction with allocated resources. For example, the UEZ, the NJ Department of Community Affairs and the Bel-Del Railroad are already building the Delaware Turtle excursion ride and will operate in May 2004 (See item 1). Additionally, the equipment maintenance facility has already been erected behind Sitgreaves Street using UEZ funding. The Phillipsburg Railroad Historians own sufficient miniature track to expand the Centerville & Southwestern ride to the Delaware River Park. (See item 2). The display tracks are already in place on town land behind Sitgreaves Street. Local volunteers own all of the equipment needed to restore the signal tower and have pledged to recreate the facility. The town has also recently applied for $394,000 in funding to restore the exterior of the Central Railroad train station.
We estimate the balance of the capital costs to be $600,000 including acquisition of easements from NJ Transit to facilitate the plan. Again, these costs will be paid out of TEA-21 funding ($400,000 approx.), UEZ funding ($150,000 approx.) and Phillipsburg capital budget ($50,000 approx.).
In its construction phase the Plan envisions governance through the Phillipsburg Urban Enterprise Zone Board of Trustees. Upon the formal opening of operations a separate, private, nonprofit with 501C (3) status will be created to operate the museum. The members will consist of town officials, volunteers from the Phillipsburg Railroad Historians, Friends of the New Jersey Rail and Transportation Museum and other public members.
The museum will have one full-time employee in charge of administration of the museum. The UEZ will provide administrative support through subsidy of overhead costs. It is hoped that the museum revenues will assist in the payment of salary and benefits as well as utility costs. Operations will depend a great deal on volunteer help from rail fans. The governing body will seek financial support from government, foundation and private resources.
The Phillipsburg Railroad Museum will operate six months out of the year from May through October. Initially, it will be open three days per week, Friday through Sunday and holidays. The operating budget for the first year has not yet been finalized but we do not expect it to exceed $75,000 including salary, benefits, utilities, insurance and marketing costs.
In the first full year of operations we hope to attract 20,000 visitors to the museum. We anticipate a $5.00 per admission charge for adults and $2.00 for children under 12 and seniors. At an average per ticket of $3.00 the museum should receive $60,000 in ticket revenues. Additionally, the museum will achieve additional revenue through retail sales of souvenirs and apparel.
Our vision is modest and achievable allowing room for growth in future years. Everything we build will complement the eventual opening of the New Jersey Rail and Transportation Center on the Delaware River. All of the ideas outlined here are discussed in the state museum's development plan.
IT IS TIME TO GET STARTED!
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