Town Attorney Rachel Arndt says a few more steps have to be taken before the lease is finalized, though. She says notices need to be published, and a public hearing will be held on the lease agreement. It’s tentatively scheduled for Thursday, August 11 at 6:30 p.m.
After that, Arndt says some additional negotiations will take place during a closed meeting the following day, “It’s going to be a meeting between the [Hoosier Valley] Railroad Museum, Co-Alliance, any of the other customers on the line that want to be involved, the town, and then Lake State we’ll invite, now that they’re the chosen lessee, to see if we can come to some agreements on the freight schedule and the passenger schedule, and kind of what our long-term goals are as a unit of folks on the line.”
The new lease is expected to impact the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum, which operates excursions on the line. It’s had to suspend its trips beyond English Lake and into LaCrosse, due to the terms of a short-term extension of the town’s operating agreement with the Chesapeake and Indiana Railroad.
Additionally, Arndt says an agreement on pricing must be reached with the line’s major freight customer before the lease can go ahead. “This is going to be subject to negotiation with Co-Alliance of commercially reasonable rates, so we’ll bring Co-Alliance in the fold and get them involved with trying to figure out what their freight rate arrangement is going to be with the lessee,” she says. “We kind of stay out of that. It’s just between them and what they can negotiate.”
According to its website, Lake State Railway currently operates about 300 miles of track in Michigan, between Flint, Gaylord, and Alpena, with headquarters in Saginaw. Lake State beat out NIWX as the town’s final selection.