I want to welcome representatives from the Town of Gray, Executive Director Donnie Carroll and his staff and Board members from MNGRR, Central Maine Power representatives especially Alice Richards supervisor of CMP’s Real Estate Services, Dan Craffey and his team from Gray Plaza, Poppy Hayden from Ladyslipper Flower Shop, members of the media and interested citizens.
On July 27th 2010 a group consisting of Town of Gray representatives including the town’s Economic Development Director George Thebarge, two members from the CEDC- Ann Gass and Tom Delaney, Town council Chair Peter Gellerson and myself met with representatives of the MNGRR to discuss the Request for Information that was sent to 38 communities throughout Maine about their intent to move and their soon to be developed RFP. That day those present at the museum’s Fore Street facility set in a motion a series of events that forever will change the history of the museum and it’s unique place as a tourist attraction, meeting place and research center. For those of us representing Gray we all could feel that the mutual needs of the Narrow Gauge and Gray were a perfect match and that our community was best fit for accommodating the museum and its tourist rail line.
Fast forward to today. Here we stand at the site of the future home for the museum in which tens of thousands of tourists, volunteers, students and local citizens will come every year to gather, work, research, learn and even take a train ride into the world of the Narrow Gauge and its rich heritage. The significance of today is underwritten by the hard work of the MNGRR’s board of directors and its Relocation Committee members- both past and present, representatives of the Town of Gray and the Gray New Gloucester Development Corporation. However none of us would be here if it were not for the collaboration between private business (both large and small), landowners and individuals with a focus on civic entrepreneurship.
I am confident that as this project steams ahead; that all parties are truly focused on the best interest of our community and will come together with enthusiasm and a commonality of forethought to see it to completion. Another vital component to the project will be the collective synergy of the community involving adjacent landowners, business, as well as civic and recreational groups involved in envisioning an enhanced pathway for both motorized and non motorized users along the Interurban corridor. Although I anticipate the next phase of this project to be the most challenging as we finalize the architectural plans and transition into fundraising – I also see this as being the most exciting and most rewarding. From this point on this will truly be a community project involving many. I am hopeful that our community stewardship will be demonstrated in our ability to give financially, to utilize and donate local business resources and expertise to infrastructure development, to receive local governmental support with regulatory and land management issues and to harness the collaborative ideas and energy of individuals who long to see and wish for this exciting attraction to help transform the downtown. Moreover what we give collectively will come back to benefit us for years to come as reflected by happy visitors to the museum, recreational users of the enhanced facilities and trails, and patrons to our local businesses.
11 Apr 2014