Derby Car Shops update

To: the Citizens of Milo

From: Milo’s Board of Selectmen

Derby Car Shops update

On Wednesday, September 16, members of the Milo’s government who were available toured Derby Car Shops, met with other stakeholders, talked and shared information. We feel Milo’s citizens should be kept as informed as is reasonably possible. Milo’s role in the future of the shops is a big decision for our town. A good decision will require everyone knowing the facts as well as the potential available there for further development for Milo.

The people in attendance were: from Central Maine and Quebec Railway; Chris Rhoda (Manager Mechanical of the Derby shops), Ryan Ratledge (Chief Operating Officer), Chad Mowery (General Manager Transportation & Mechanical) and another employee who‘s name and position I didn't hear - sorry; State Representative, Norm Higgins; Erik Stumpfel, Attorney (Rudmin & Winchell); Fred Trask, County Commissioner; Christopher Winstead (Piscataquis County Economic Development Council); Peter Sherr, P.E. (Principal, Senior Project Manager from Ransom Consulting, Inc.); Ben Kittredge (Milo Public Health Officer), Damien, Interim Town Manager; Selectpersons Jerry, Peter and Isabelle. We are very fortunate to have the support of each and every one of these people.

One major concern shared by citizens and the board is the possibility of environmental problems that may have developed since the shops began operations in 1905. PCB’s, lead, petroleum and other pollutants can be serious problems and we know that. Even though an assessment has been done every time the property changed ownership and at least one remedial action seems to have been taken we feel a need for a precise determination of the current status of the property. Old records or studies will not meet our needs. The best answer to this concern is the Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) and report. The process has four components: Records review, Site reconnaissance, Interviews, and the Report. You can learn more about Phase I and II ESA’s by doing a little research on the internet so we won’t elaborate here.

Milo’s Phase I ESA paperwork was begun by Jerry and has been handed on to Peter Sherr, Professional Engineer, for completion on behalf of the Town of Milo. Mr. Sherr has a strong background in Brownfields redevelopment, should we need to draw on that expertise. Erik Stumpfel, our attorney, has also had experience with Brownfields from his perspective as an attorney. There is a Phase II ESA that investigates any Recognized Environmental Conditions (RECs) or other concerns resulting from the Phase I ESA, but we aren’t there at this point.

It’s important to understand that there are different requirements for any property that will be developed (or redeveloped) for uses that are not the existing use. This is true for house lots and lots in the business park on Park Street just as it is for the shops. Certain soils will support specific uses and other uses must be avoided. That’s why soil surveys are done before building permits are authorized. Redeveloping a railroad property for an industrial site is vastly different than wanting to make it a school site or a housing development. What is hoped for at Derby Car Shops is redevelopment as an industrial site which should not be as burdensome as redevelopment for some other uses would be.

Some general information has been gleaned from touring the shops, newspapers, and the internet. CMQ is headed by John Giles, who has had a long and successful career running short line railroads. While at Rail America in six years 202 safety awards (JAKE Awards) were given to his company. CMQ’s goal of annual profitability is being helped by the past purchase of twenty (20) newer locomotives that have cut fuel consumption in half while being more reliable and faster than the previous units. The company also has an excellent marketing team emphasizing customer service. That marketing and attention to customer needs has increased the business being done by CMQ.

We’ve known from the beginning that the shops needs work. No concrete amounts are available for quoting but a substantial amount will be needed. Refining one estimate has a price tag of almost a thousand dollars and this is not the point at which to spend taxpayers dollars that way.

 CMQ leases Derby Car Shops. Like any tenant of a building on the market it would be poor business judgment for them to renovate a leased building. There are significant improvements that should be made at the shops. Improving or replacing the heating plant, electrical system upgrades, insulation and some structural changes will all benefit in retaining the current lessee and/or attracting another. If citizens are eventually willing to accept the property, the means to refine estimates and make the improvements can be actively sought. Until then we are keeping resources in mind to tap and getting through the process to whatever decision is made by Milo’s citizens when sufficient information is available to make the best decision for Milo.