Category Archives: Minutes

Meeting Minutes — Lansing – January 10, 2015

JANUARY 10, 2015

Present: Steve Sobel, David Williams, Clayton Farmer, Clark Charnetski, Chuck Merckel,, Jeanie Merckel Kim J. Powell, Don Monteith, Don W. Westcott, Bob Johnston, Warren Fritz, Larry Krieg, Darryl Apps, Kay Chase, Hugh Gurney, Bob Lovell, Jim Roach, Michael Frezell, Robert Patterson, Diane Patterson, Bob Tischbein, Jim Hinkins, Larry Swartz, Nancy L. Swartz, Norma L. Ward, Barb Spaulding-Westcott, Charles Bonnell, Dave VanderBee, Richard Pekarek, John Burmen, Andrew Kent, JP Descamp, Dan Platz, Steve Vagnozzi, John Langdon, Jim Wallington

Chairman Larry Krieg opened the meeting with a safety briefing.

Individuals in attendance introduced themselves.

A MOTION by Dave Williams, seconded by John Langdon, was made to accept the Order of Business for the meeting as presented. MOTION PASSED.

A MOTION by John Langdon, seconded by Dave Williams, was made to accept the minutes as amended by Kay Chase for the November 18, meeting in Port Huron. MOTION PASSED.

Jeanie Merckel presented the budget for 2015. 2015 budget is established at $17,000.00, up from $15,420.00 in 2014. $2,700 dollars from the 2014 budget was carried forward in the 2015 budget. A MOTION by Hugh Gurney, seconded by John Langdon, was made to accept the 2015 budget as presented. MOTION PASSED.

Jeanie Merckel presented the Treasurer’s Report. Income for 2014 was $16,273.95 (budgeted $14,700) and expenses were $13,914.63 (budgeted $15,420.00). The Pratt Fund as of 10/23/14 was $17,141.24 ($48.91 per share) and on 11/30/14 it was up to $18,083.99 ($51.60 per share) for a gain of $942.75. A MOTION by Clark Charnetski, seconded by Warren Fritz, was made to accept the treasurer’s report as presented. MOTION PASSED.

OUTREACH REPORT: Chuck Merckel reported that he is looking for additional Amtrak literature to hand out at the scheduled shows this winter. Amtrak is out of many pieces of literature and it is uncertain when the new material will be ready. Chuck gave a report on the December 15, 2014 Dearborn Station Open House in conjunction with the dedication of the new station. MARP was the only organization present to hand out information on rail travel. The event was well-attended and the many people stopping by the MARP table kept the volunteers busy handing out the information. Those that participated were Robert Patterson, Steve Sobel, Robert Tobleck, Chuck and Jeanie Merckel. Chairman Krieg thanks those that worked the show and congratulated them on a job well done.
MEMBERSHIP: Reported by Kay Chase
MARP Membership Analysis CY2014

Renewals 248
New 33
COMPLIMENTARY 12 (includes 2 for Library of Michigan)
TOTAL MEMBERSHIP 315 (this includes the 12 complimentary memberships)
Senior $15 152
Student $15 2
Regular $25 48
Family $30 29
Advocate $50 28
1st Class $100 13
LIFE $500 22
Gift & Comp 6

In-State 267
Out-of-State 33
Canada 5
England 1

Detroit Metro 150
East/Central 48
West 87
North 21

Total Dues Collected $7,250.00
Contributions $810.00

COMMUNICATIONS: Reported by Kay Chase
Larry Sobczak, editor of The Michigan Passenger, is working on the Winter issue which should be out soon.
Treasurer Jeanie Merckel is looking into making Pay-Pal available to members for paying membership dues.

GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS: Reported by John Langdon
John indicated that meetings with legislators were being set up.

Clark Charnetski spoke to the possible need to change the organization of MARP from Regional Chapters to areas of different aspects of rail travel.

Steve Sobel spoke about the Dearborn Station and the possibility of current and future parking problems because of the limited amount that is allocated to station parking that doesn’t meet the current parking needs and the possible additional problem of people using this parking lot to access Greenfield Village and Henry Ford Museum by way of the new over pass at the station.

Steve also suggested that on the way out of town after lunch people might like to drive by the construction site of the new East Lansing station.

PROGRAM: Bob Johnston, writer for Trains Magazine
Bob delivered a power point informal presentation on several topics giving his views of where passenger travel is going. He talked about:
1. The possibility of the Talgo trains, which Wisconsin canceled the order for after they were built, coming to Michigan. Negotiations are ongoing with MDOT mostly about who would be responsible for maintaining the units and where a maintenance facility would be located. Most likely the units would be used to supplement the Wolverine Service.
2. A possible alternative route for Michigan trains between Porter, IN, and Chicago that would go slightly south of the existing route and come back to the Amtrak Michigan section at Porter. Rail right-of-way still exists but it would have to be completely rebuilt being that it is not currently being used.
3. Amtrak and the State of Indiana are still in negotiations over who will run the Hoosier State trains between Chicago and Indianapolis.
4. The Empire Builder is back on its original route. Bob showed pictures of the right-of-way at Devils Lake from a few years ago with the water lapping at the tracks and what it looks like today now that the tracks have been raised.
5. Amtrak and the State of New Mexico are talking about how Amtrak can service parts of New Mexico now that BNSF plans on abandoning the tracks that the Southwest Chief currently uses across New Mexico. The track is in poor condition and New Mexico, although they want Amtrak service to continue, do not want to have to invest in the necessary track improvements.
6. When asked, Bob did not think Amtrak would alter the route of either the Capitol Limited or Lake Shore to come through Michigan so that a connection to Toledo could be made from Southeast Michigan.

Meeting was adjourned at 12:30pm
Many members made their way to Clara’s Lansing Station to lunch together.

Respectfully submitted by: Accepted by:

_____________________________________ _________________________________________
Don W. Westcott, At-Large Executive Larry Krieg, Chair

Meeting Minutes – Executive Committee — Ann Arbor – December 13, 2014

DECEMBER 13, 2014

The Executive Committee met on December 13 for an all-day session to organize for the coming year. We enjoyed the hospitality of the planning consultants Smith Group JJR at 201 Depot Street in Ann Arbor, who made their facilities available to us for the day.

Voting Members present: Kay Chase, Warren Fritz, Larry Krieg, John Langdon, Jeanie Merckel, Don Monteith, Kathleen Newell, Robert Patterson, Jim Wallington (Quorum: 5)

Non-Voting Members present: Jim Hinkins (alternate for Patterson), Hugh Gurney, Chuck Merckel

Call to order. The meeting was called to order at 10:00 a.m. by Chair Larry Krieg.

Approval of Order of Business. The Order of Business was unanimously approved.

Approval of Minutes. Minutes of the Executive Committee October 4 conference call were not available.

Treasurer’s Report. The Treasurer’s November 2014 report was accepted as presented.

Future Meetings. The January 10, 2015 meeting will be held at the former GTW Depot in Lansing.

Action Items. Action was deferred until discussion was held under New Business
a. Budget
b. Bylaws Amendments

Officer Reports. There were no officer reports.

Old Business. There was no old business.

New Business.

a. Budget.

Treasurer Jeanie Merckel presented the draft budget for 2015, projecting income from dues ($7000), donations ($1000) and a grant from Michigan Environmental Council ($5000). A major expenditure is for the four issues of The Michigan Passenger provided to the membership and widely distributed through train stations and outreach events. MARP pays membership dues to the National Association of Railroad Passengers ($150), Midwest High Speed Rail Association ($200), Transportation Riders United ($100), and Transportation for Michigan ($150). An annual grant of $500 to Durand Union Station, Inc. supports a basic organizational purpose of MARP (preservation of historic train stations) and allows us use of the facility for the annual meeting. The Michigan Environmental Council (MEC) grant aids MARP in covering expenses associated with our participation in MEC ( and Transportation for Michigan ( projects which this year will include a number of community meetings to promote the Coast-to-Coast rail project, as well as other activities associated with the Michigan By Rail campaign ( A contribution of $1000 from American By Rail will fund speakers for special events such as the annual meeting.

Discussion of reimbursement for expenses of such things as travel to the Toledo National Train Day will be discussed at a later date in conjunction with creating a set of guidelines or “best practices.

Langdon moved, Westcott seconded, to approve budget with expenditures of $16,750 and income of $14,300. The Treasurer projects carry over from the current budget year to bring budget into balance. Motion carried unanimously.

Merckel asked that a Finance Committee be formed to assist in budgeting and planning. Langdon moved, Newell seconded, to form a Finance Committee. Motion carried with 7 in favor, 1 opposed, 1 abstention. Jeanie Merckel will chair the committee. Langdon and Fritz were named to the committee.

Following discussion of the potential of using phone conferencing and/or online tools to conduct executive committee business, Steve Vagnozzi volunteered to investigate an internet-based meeting tool, as well as conference calling with 800-numbers.

b. Bylaws Revision

The bylaws committee, chaired by Hugh Gurney, has been working for several months to assess the need for, and suggest possible revisions to, the MARP bylaws. After considerable discussion, a number of changes were approved. When finalized, the document will be presented to a vote of the entire membership.

A key change would be to allow election of regional chapter officers by their regional chapter membership if more than ten members in that region so request. Other changes include: wording to allow use of electronic means to distribute MARP news publications, send notices and to conduct business; clarification of duties of officers; and assignment of authority for disbursement of funds.

It was moved and seconded that the bylaws changes presented today be approved with the exception of Article 12 concerning finances. Westcott moved, Langdon seconded, to amend the motion to exclude section 2.1 as well from approval of the bylaws revisions until the goals subcommittee has further discussion. Motion passed with 7 in favor. The original motion to accept the recommendations of the bylaws committee with exception of 2.1 and article 12 passed with 8 in favor, 0 opposed, 1 abstention.

Fritz, Vagnozzi, and Gurney will continue to work to resolve the questions with 2.1 and Article 12.

The Executive Committee proposed developing a set of “best practices” to guide its work in carrying out the various functions of the organization. Electronic communications and teleconferencing provide opportunities for policy discussions and decision-making, but it is unclear how best to incorporate these resources into our work.

There was not time to discuss the results of the questionnaire presented at the beginning of the meeting in which the committee was asked to rank a number of possible activities for the coming year. Responses were tallied and summarized by Carolyn Lusch, a student of urban design at U of M, who was engaged to take notes during the meeting. This summary is included on a separate document accompanying these meeting notes.

Adjournment: The meeting adjourned at 4:00 p.m.
Respectfully submitted: Accepted:
_____________________________________ _________________________________
Kay Chase Larry Krieg
Transcribed from notes taken by Carolyn Lusch

Meeting Minutes — PORT HURON – November 15, 2014


NOVEMBER 15, 2014

Members Present: Larry Krieg, Jim Wallington, Clark Charnetski, Chuck Merckel, Jeanie Merckel, Dan Platz, Bob Tischbein, Jim Hinkins, Richard Pekarek, Tim Backhurst, Clayton Farmer, Steve Sobel, Martha Benedict, Robert Hines, Barb Spaulding-Westcott, Doug Wilson, Roger Morrissett, JaeAnn Burgett, T. J. Gaffney, Steve Vagnozzi, Dan Platz, David Roberts, Cecilia Roberts, Robert Patterson, Diane Patterson, Kim J. Powell, Larry Sobczak, John Guidinger, Marilyn Guidinger

Guests: Anita Ashford, Celeste Shoulders, Paul G. Maxwell, Mark Hellckijaer

Call to Order: The meeting was called to order at 10:00 AM by Chair Larry Krieg.

Membership Meeting Minutes: Minutes of the October 18, 2014 Membership Meeting in Grand Rapids were approved.

Appointment of East-Central Regional Chair: The Executive Committee, by electronic meeting, voted to appoint Steven Vagnozzi to fill the East Central Regional Chair position vacated by Rosemary Horvath’s resignation. The Membership received a biographical sketch of Mr. Vagnozzi at the meeting.

Future Meetings (Jim Wallington): January 10, 2015 at the former Grand Trunk station in Lansing. The February 2015 meeting is tentatively planned for Clara’s Restaurant in Battle Creek. The March 2015 meeting will be at the Kalamazoo Library or the transit authority headquarters in Kalamazoo.

Outreach (Chuck Merckel): Volunteers are needed for events. Mr. Merckel encouraged more members to participate in outreach. Krieg noted that outreach is one of the purposes of MARP as set forth in the Bylaws. The Wheels on Rails show is happening on November 30. Mr. Merckel strongly recommended outreach at shows that are not train-oriented because fewer people who attend are familiar with passenger train availability. He also reported that he is working toward participating with trips for senior citizens, after a successful outreach at the request of MDOT to the annual conference of travel and activity directors at senior housing and care facilities.

A sign-up sheet was circulated. Results of this recruitment effort:
• Delta Rocks: 4 interested
• Maple Syrup Festival: 1 person interested
• Michigan Earth Day: 4-5 people interested
• Fruitport Days: 1-2 people who indicated an interest previously but were not present

Treasurer’s Report: We received five new members and a $1,000 donation from America By Rail since last month’s report. Expenses for the month were $521. The MARP endowment (“Pratt”) fund has been invested as directed by Resolution of the Executive Committee. Acceptance of the report was moved by T. Backhurst and seconded by D. Wilson. The membership accepted the report unanimously.

Michigan Rail News
• Dearborn Station will be opening in December. Detroit Metro Chair Patterson has worked to get MARP invited to the opening ceremony December 15. MARP will have a table there. Trains will actually serve the station starting December 10. Shuttles will run from the old station for a while to assist people who may have parked at the old station before the move.
• Grand Rapids station is now open. MARP presented an award to U. S. Senator Carl Levin at the ceremony, in recognition of his long years of support for passenger rail service.
• The acquisition of Talgo trainsets by MDOT is uncertain at this time.

North America Rail News
• All Aboard Florida is making progress. Ground was broken for the West Palm Beach station; they are contracting with Siemens for the same model of locomotive selected recently by Amtrak.
• Texas Central Railroad is proposing a high speed rail connecting Dallas with Houston, a distance of about 240 miles. They are arranging entirely private financing in cooperation with Central Japan Railway, whose engineering and equipment they expect to utilize. They plan to be able to begin service in 2021.

Introduction of the First Speaker: T. J. Gaffney

Mr. Gaffney is owner of Streamline Historic Services, former Director of the Steam Railroading Institute, author of several books and articles. He served as volunteer curator at the Port Huron Museum, and lives in Capac, near Port Huron.

Presentation 1: Port Huron’s Transportation History

Mr. Gaffney emphasized at the outset how much less access to public transport Port Huron has now than it did 100 years ago in 1914. He gave several detailed examples with copious historic photographs and maps.

The Pere Marquette depot in Croswell is still standing. The PM line passed through Jeddo, Blaine, and Gratiot Center; its roundhouse was on 16th street. The bridge over the Black River still stands, but the one crossing the canal between Lake Huron and the Black River has been removed.

The Grand Trunk Western’s route through Canada and across the St. Clair River for some years served the second-largest number of immigrants to the United States. GTW’s lead to Dunn Paper was once part of the CD&CGT line.

Thomas A. Edison was raised in Port Huron and departed from the Fort Gratiot depot for his job selling newspapers and snacks on the train to Detroit.

In 1913 the Grand Trunk’s main Michigan locomotive servicing shops were destroyed by fire, and the railroad decided to rebuild them in Battle Creek. The Port Huron property was sold to Peerless Cement. When the tunnel was built under the St. Clair River, the old car ferry docks were converted to the Port Huron boat yard.

Introduction of the Second Speaker: Paul G. Maxwell

Mr. Maxwell is Director of the Port Huron Charter Township Downtown Development Authority and previously served in several business and civic capacities.

Presentation 2: “Port Huron Station’s Relocation”

The present-day Amtrak station was built in 1970 to replace the historic Grand Trunk station. Several civic organizations and municipalities have agreed that it would be desirable to relocate the station to a site with more space for parking and the possibility of private enterprise building shops, a restaurant, and even a hotel.

A possible site is adjacent to Canadian National’s Tunnel Yard, which extends from 24th St. to 32nd St. There is support in the area for this location in Port Huron Charter Township because of its convenience to Interstate highways. It is within half a mile of the intersection of I-94 and I-69 (currently being reconstructed), providing convenient access from the west, south, and especially east – where the many Canadians who patronize Amtrak’s Blue Water cross the bridge from Sarnia. And this location also would allow trains to continue through the tunnel to Canada, if that service is ever reestablished.

The station is envisioned to become an intermodal terminal, as local and regional buses come to serve it. A rail trail is planned for one of the abandoned lines near the site, which would add non-motorized access. The relocation is hoped to stimulate economic activity, particularly the tourist industry.

Having built a strong coalition of supporters, the next step would be a feasibility study. That is not likely to be initiated for a while, but Mr. Maxwell said he hoped MARP would help in the effort. Several members, including Chair Krieg, assured Mr. Maxwell of MARP’s best wishes and willingness to help.

Next Membership Meeting: Saturday, January 10, 2015 at 10:00 AM at the Lansing Board of Water and Light (former GTW Depot). The Executive Committee will have a retreat on Saturday, December 13, 2014, 10 AM to 4 PM, to be held at 201 Depot St., Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Adjournment: The meeting was adjourned at 12:00 noon.

Lunch: Lynch’s Irish Tavern, 210 Huron Blvd., Port Huron.

Tour of Port Huron transportation and cultural features:

Mr. Paul Maxwell kindly arranged a tour by “historic trolley” bus of the cultural and transportation highlights of the Port Huron region. This included a visit to the Port Huron and Detroit Railroad Historical Society’s restoration (in progress) of that railroad’s depot on the south side of Tunnel Yard.

Respectfully submitted: Accepted:
________________________________ __________________________________
Clayton Farmer Larry Krieg, Chair
(notes compiled by Larry Krieg)

Meeting Minutes — Grand Rapids – October 18, 2014

OCTOBER 18, 2014

Members Present: Larry Krieg, Warren R. Fritz, Rick Burn, Kathleen Newell, Kay Chase, Jim Wallington, Clark Charnetski, John Langdon, Don Monteith, Chuck Merckel, Jean Merckel, Dan Platz, Roger Marrissett, Ed Heckman, Hugh Gurney, John McKibben, Rosemary Horvath, Tim Hoeffner, Charles Shong, Al Koole, Eric Elliott, Richard A. Horvitz, David Williams, Bob Tischbein and Jim Hinkins.

Guests: Michael Bulthuis (The Rapid), Ronald B. Day, and Adam Tauno Williams.

Call to Order: The meeting was called to order at 10:00 AM by chair Larry Krieg.

Executive Committee Minutes: Minutes of the August 19, 2014 Executive Committee Meeting were approved unanimously.

Membership Meeting Minutes: Minutes of the July 19, 2014 Membership Meeting in Traverse City were approved.

Appointment of New At-Large Executive Committee Member: This would fill a vacancy created when Jim Wallington became Vice Chair.

Resolution: Don Wescott shall be appointed as an Executive Committee Member At-Large with responsibility for coordinating meetings.

Moved by John Langdon and seconded by Jim Wallington.

Motion passed unanimously.

Future Meetings (Jim Wallington): January 10, 2015 at the former Grand Trunk station in Lansing. The February 2015 meeting is tentatively planned for Clara’s Restaurant in Battle Creek. The March 2015 meeting will be at the Kalamazoo Library or the transit authority headquarters in Kalamazoo.

Outreach (Chuck Merckel): Volunteers are needed for events. See sign-up sheets. At events, attendees are encouraged to sign up for on-line editions of “On Track” via e-mail. More than 200 people now receive “On Track” by this method.

Feature Presentation “The Silver line—Michigan’s First Bus Rapid Transit”

Michael Bulthuis, Public Outreach Coordinator for The Rapid, gave a Power Point presentation: “The Silver Line—Michigan’s First Bus Rapid Transit.” From planning to startup has taken more than ten years. Operations commenced on August 25, 2014. The 9.6 mile route starts at a 200-space park and ride lot at 60th Street on the south end of the line, goes north on Division Avenue to the “Medical Mile” on the north end, then west and south past the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel and ends at the Central Station of The Rapid.

Division Avenue was chosen because it is a long street with the most cross-town bus transfer points, and some portions of the route are ripe for economic development. The existing bus Route #1 continues to operate as a local bus on Division. BRT vehicles stop only at stations with high level platforms (14 to 15 inches above the roadway) so that passengers do not have to climb stairs. This speeds up boarding and exiting, and makes life easier for those using wheelchairs and walkers. Lighted platforms are sixty feet long and use ramps for access from sidewalks if necessary. Shelters at each station are either 36 or 48 feet long, depending upon the number of passengers handled and the geometry of the site.

Stations are spaced approximately one-half mile apart, although they are closer together in the downtown area. They are nearly identical in appearance. Each station has heated platforms, ticket vending and validation machines, emergency telephones, benches and bike racks. An electronic sign announces arriving buses and how many minutes until the next one. On-board roving ticket inspectors enforce ticket regulations. The standard fare is $1.50 one way with free transfers.

The ten hybrid vehicles used in Silver Line service have their own unique green paint scheme and are similar to buses used on other routes, except that they do not have fare boxes or the pull cords for requesting stops. Passengers may board either at front or rear doors. All BRT buses stop at all stations. Visual and auditory announcements indicate station approaches. A Traffic Signal Priority system reduces delays at stoplights. During rush hours the right traffic lane is for buses and automobile right turns only. An end to end ride takes just over 30 minutes. Buses run on ten minute headways during rush hour and have 38 seats made by American Seating. Standees give each bus a capacity of 70 passengers.

The capital cost of the Silver Line was $40 million. The Division Avenue Route #1 bus continues to operate as a local bus with separate stops about a quarter mile apart. Ridership on that route is roughly the same as before the Silver Line, but Silver Line patronage is approximately the same as that of Route #1. Therefore transit use on Division Avenue has doubled, though some BRT passengers use the Route #1 buses as feeders to the Silver Line.

The Silver Line gives Southeast Michigan a taste of the three or four RTA bus rapid transit lines proposed for the Metro Detroit area, including Woodward Avenue between Pontiac and Detroit. The Rapid is now studying a second BRT route from Allendale (the home of Grand Valley State University) to Grand Rapids, a distance of 13 miles, to be called the Laker Line. Additional information can be found at

Trans4m’s Budget-Based Dues Structure: Larry Krieg explained that Trans4m will be instituting a dues structure and is seeking the opinion of members as to whether is should be a flat rate or based upon the size of each member’s budget.

Resolution: MARP shall endorse a budget-based dues structure for Trans4m.

Moved by Hugh Gurney and seconded by David Williams.

The motion passed.

Sharing of Membership Lists by NARP and MARP: Should MARP share membership lists with NARP? Presently MARP states that it will not share member information with any outside party.

Resolution: MARP shall exchange membership data with NARP annually until further notice after informing the membership with the annual membership renewal notice.

Moved by David Williams and seconded by John Langdon.

The motion passed by a vote of 18 to 1.

Treasurer’s Report (Jean Merckel): MARP has gained 8 new members.

The Pratt Fund was discussed by members. Warren Fritz advised that a more diversified investment would be more likely to yield a better return than a single fund and suggested that MARP place the Pratt Fund money into at least two funds Other members indicated that they believed that it is time to transfer the funds as had been previously approved by the Executive Committee and that Mr. Fritz’s suggestion could be implemented at a later time. The previous action of the Executive Committee will be carried out.

FRA Study of Chicago to Detroit/Pontiac Corridor: Written responses to the FRA study are due by December 19, 2014. What shall be the response of MARP?

Resolution: That MARP form a committee of three or more members to draft a written statement to be submitted to the FRA by December 19, 2014, regarding the Chicago to Detroit/Pontiac passenger rail corridor Environmental Impact Statement.

Moved by John Langdon and seconded by Chuck Merckel.

The motion was approved unanimously.

New Grand Rapids Amtrak Station: The station is due to open Sunday evening, October 26, 2014, with a ceremony in November.

New Dearborn Amtrak Station: Due to open on Monday, December 15 2014.

Algoma Central Threat of Discontinuance: Kay Chase reported on her recent trip on the threatened Algoma Central train from Sault Ste. Marie to Hearst. Postcards urging the continuation of train service are still available to be sent to members of Parliament.

Next Meeting: Saturday, November 15, 2014 at 10:00 AM at the Port Huron Museum of Arts and History Carnegie Center, 1115 Sixth Street, Port Huron MI 48060. Phone 810-982-0891.

Adjournment: The meeting was adjourned at 12:25 PM.

Submitted by Clark Charnetski

Tour of New Grand Rapids Amtrak Station:

Following the MARP meeting, members and guests were treated to a preview tour of the new Vernon J. Ehlers Grand Rapids Amtrak station. It is located just south of The Rapids Central Station, thus allowing for easy transfer between modes. It replaces the thirty-year-old “temporary” station on Wealthy Street.

The brick, metal and glass building has an airy feeling with large windows and glass doors facing the train platform on the south side of the station. The platform has a canopy the length of the platform that is 15 inches above top of rail, which is seven inches higher than most other stations in Michigan. It is nearly level to the lower floor of Superliner cars and the new cars on order for Michigan. Grand Rapids is the first Amtrak station in Michigan to have such high platforms, though the new Dearborn station, which is expected to open in December, will also have that height. Grand Rapids is a stub end station with one track and provision for a second.

The automobile and taxi pick up and drop off drive is on the north end of the station which has a clock tower. The 115-space long-term parking lot is between the train station and The Rapid’s Central Station. The heated lobby will be open longer hours than the station itself and will contain a ticket machine. The interior of the station has accessible restrooms and a room for train crews. Its address is 440 Century Avenue SW 49503.

Meeting Minutes – Executive Committee — Lansing – August 16, 2014

AUGUST 16, 2014

Members Present: Robert Tischbein, Larry Krieg, Hugh Gurney, Jeanie Merckel, John Langdon, Kay Chase, Kathleen Newell, Jim Wallington, Robert Patterson, Rosemary Horvath, Jim Hinkins, Don Monteith, Warren Fritz

Also Present: Michael Frezell, Lansing Model Railroad Club and former Vice Chair, MARP

Call to Order: Chairman Tischbein called the meeting to order at 10:05 a.m. After Roll Call, it was determined that a quorum was present.

Approval of Agenda: Patterson asked that the agenda be amended to include distribution of Michigan Transit Museum materials just before the close of the meeting. Langdon moved approval of the agenda with this amendment. Newell seconded the motion and it was approved by the members present.

Minutes of the Executive Committee meeting held in Traverse City on July 19, 2014 were reviewed. Krieg moved approval. The motion was seconded by Langdon and approved by the members present.

Plans for September 14, 2014 Annual Meeting: Langdon briefed the group on arrangements to date for the Annual Meeting. Tom Carper of Macomb, Illinois, who serves on the Amtrak Board of Directors will be the keynote speaker. Tim Fischer will review progress on M-1. Tim Hoeffner is confirmed as is Ron DeCook, who will brief us on a study supported by MDOT and MSU. Senator Carl Levin and U. S. Representative Dave Camp have been invited.

As Jeanie Merckel is scheduled to leave town on September 1, Kathleen Newell will check the MARP mail box for reservations and forward them to Rosemary Horvath, who is handling arrangements for the meal. Rosemary needs to give the caterer a count and pay for the meals as soon as possible.

Horvath moved to have a membership questionnaire discussed at the Annual Meeting. The motion was seconded by Gurney. Newell agreed to provide the survey she has already done in preparation for today’s meeting with a little tweaking. It was agreed that the Membership Committee, including Newell, Langdon and Farmer would be responsible for having the survey available.

At Tischbein’s suggestion, it was further agreed that an Executive Committee member would sit at every table to guide discussion during the lunch break. The motion was approved with Chase dissenting to doing the survey, not to having Executive Committee members sit at each table.

Wallington, with assistance from Hinkins, will check people in at the door, collect from those who have not paid, and seek membership renewals. Membership forms will be at the check in table. Horvath will serve as the official photographer. Krieg will bring a projector so one will be available if needed.

Coast-to-Coast: Langdon reported that the $100,000 grant application for a ridership survey for the proposed Detroit-Lansing-Grand Rapids-Holland passenger rail project had been approved by MDOT and submitted to the federal authorities.

Bylaws: Citing Articles #14.1 and #14.2, Horvath urged a full discussion of changes to the Bylaws at today’s meeting. As both Patterson and Monteith asked to be added to the Bylaws Committee, Chairman Tischbein made the appointment. Gurney then led an extensive discussion of the Bylaws, highlighting changes suggested by the Bylaws Committee. Michael Frezell, who drafted the current Bylaws, was particularly helpful.
It was agreed that the Bylaws Committee would meet again on October 28 and there attempt to incorporate suggested changes into a new draft to be presented to the Executive Committee at their December meeting.

Candidates for 2014-2016 Executive Committee: Krieg reviewed the slate of candidates for Executive Committee as it stands at the moment. The slate includes:
Chair Larry Krieg
Vice Chair No candidate
Secretary No candidate
At Large (Public/Governmental Affairs) John Langdon
At Large (Communications) Kay Chase
At Large (Membership) Kathleen Newell
At Large (Meetings) Jim Wallington
Regional Chair, Detroit Metro Robert Patterson
Regional Chair, East/Central Rosemary Horvath
Regional Chair, Western Michigan Warren Fritz
Regional Chair, Northern Michigan Don Montieth

Krieg noted that members could also offer nominations from the floor, which might be a way to fill vacant positions. Both Krieg and Wallington have approached people about serving as Secretary.

There was a question as whether Dave VanderBee was also a candidate for Chair. Krieg will check with Clark Charnetski, who served on the Nominations Committee.

Pratt Fund: Chase asked for a discussion of the future of the Pratt Fund. Langdon moved that the issue be open for discussion. The motion was seconded by Patterson.

Chase then reviewed a memo she had received from MARP Founder John DeLora about the origins and purposes of the Pratt Fund. The seed money came from dissolution of the Friends of the Grand Trunk, a commuter association headed by Edmund Pratt, hence the name of the Fund. The concept was to establish an endowment fund which would grow until it was large enough to support MARP operations. Proceeds were invested in the American Fund Investment Company of America (AIVSX). The plan was to put 10% of all dues collected and 90% of major gifts into the Fund.

In June, 2012, on the recommendation of then Treasurer David Randall, the Executive Committee voted to move the Pratt Fund from the American Funds Investment Company of America to the Vanguard Total Stock Market Investment (VTSMX). This would bring the expense ratio down from 0.61% to 0.18%. In August, 2012, the account with American Funds Investment Company of America was closed and the proceeds moved to the JPMorgan Chase checking account. They have never been moved to the Vanguard account.

Warren Fritz, a licensed stock broker noted that both American Funds account and Vanguard are good investments, but Vanguard does have lower fees, although it is a little more volatile. He recommended that we proceed with investing the Pratt Fund in the Vanguard Total Stock Market Investment.


Be it Resolved, that the Executive Committee of the Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers directs Jeanie Merckel, current Treasurer, to move $17,141.26 from the MARP checking account to the Vanguard Index Fund called Total Stock Market Index Admiral Class Shares (VTSAX).

The motion was approved by a majority of the Executive Committee members present and voting. Monteith opposed.

Pere Marquette 30th Anniversary: Langdon reported that the 30th Anniversary of Pere Marquette service from Grand Rapids to Chicago would be celebrated on September 14, 2014. Westrain is heading up the commemoration and has asked MARP provide a birthday cake. Payment for the cake has already been approved by Chairman Tischbein. Langdon has been helping secure items from each community along the route for a gift bag for all passengers. Volunteers from St. Joseph are stuffing the bags.

The train will run on its regular schedule with ceremonies in each community on the west bound trip. Dignitaries from Amtrak, Westrain and MDOT will be aboard. A special theater car will be added to the train.

Pere Marquette 40th Anniversary: Horvath noted that MARP member Don Westcott seemed to be doing most of the heavy lifting in preparation for the 40th anniversary of the
Blue Water, tentatively scheduled for October 1. She and Jim Wallington will be assisting as needed. Westcott will have more details at the Annual Meeting in September.

Grand Rapids Station Opening: The opening date for the new Amtrak station in Grand Rapids is still up in the air. The connection between the station track and the CSX main line has not been completed. With luck, the station will open sometime in October.

Hinkins noted that we will probably see three station openings this fall, with Dearborn and Troy also likely to open before snow falls.

Meetings: Wallington passed out a tentative meeting schedule for 2015. Patterson urged that we try Regional Meetings in the coming year.

Other: Langdon reported that he had received a thank you from Hope College for the Amtrak Guide Books and Junior Conductor hats.

Merckel reported that the Michigan Transit Museum wants to be on the distribution list for The Michigan Passenger. Chuck Merckel has provided them with membership brochures. Langdon agreed to put the museum on the Amtrak distribution list.

Fritz observed that most libraries will be happy to receive a supply of Amtrak timetables.

Adjournment: The meeting adjourned at 2:30 p.m.

Respectfully submitted: Accepted:

Hugh D. Gurney Robert Tischbein
Secretary Chair