November 18, 2013

Old 470 steam locomotive on Waterville council agenda

City councilors tonight will consider taking final votes to sell the Old 470 steam locomotive to New England Steam Corp. for $25,000.

By Amy Calder acalder@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

WATERVILLE — City councilors Tuesday will consider taking final votes to sell the Old 470 steam locomotive to New England Steam Corp. for $25,000.

The meeting will be at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at The Center downtown.

It will be preceded by an executive session at 6:45 p.m. to discuss real estate negotiations.

Councilors Nov. 6 took a first vote to approve the locomotive sale but said they would discuss the matter further before taking final votes. They could take only a second vote tonight, but are authorized to take a second and third, or final, vote.

Steam Corp. officials estimate it would cost between $1.5 to 1.75 million to restore the steam engine, which was the last one used for passenger service on the Maine Central Railroad and made its final trip through Waterville, from Portland to Bangor, on June 13, 1954.

It was built in 1924 by American Locomotive Co. and given to the city Oct. 28, 1962, as a gift by Maine Central Railroad on its 100th birthday.

For years, the locomotive has sat deteriorating on state-owned land off College Avenue. Intermittent efforts to raise enough money to restore and preserve the engine have been unsuccessful.

The city estimated it would cost about $1 million to restore the engine — an amount city officials said was unaffordable. So, a city committee solicited requests for proposals and six entities, including New England Steam, submitted proposals. New England Steam was the only one that proposed keeping Old 470 in Maine. Corporation officials say they want to restore the engine and use it for excursions on the Downeast Scenic Railroad in the Ellsworth Area.

The order councilors will consider tonight says the city agrees to sell Old 470 to New England Steam for $25,000, to be paid within 24 months. The purchase and sale agreement says the city will convey title to New England Steam upon payment of $25,000, presentation of a binding contract for a firm price to move it to an off-site location and proof of sufficient money to pay the firm price for moving it.

The corporation must also agree to keep the locomotive in Maine.

In other matters tonight, councilors will consider taking final votes to accept a $300,000 community development block grant from the Department of Economic and Community Development that would allow Bragdon Farms to open a hay log business in the former Harris Baking Co. building.

City Manager Michael Roy said he plans to update councilors on a proposal to build an Interstate 95 interchange near Trafton Road.

Roy said Monday that it looks as if the proposal has received conceptual approval by state and federal highway officials.

“Now that it’s been approved conceptually by the state and federal governments, we need to initiate at the local level a review process and full and open discussions about the benefits and the concerns with an I-95 interchange,” Roy said.

Amy Calder — 861-9247 acalder@centralmaine.com Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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