Meeting Minutes – Executive Committee – Muskegon- June 16, 2012

 JUNE 16, 2012

 Members Present: Don Monteith, Hugh Gurney, Dave Randall, John Langdon, Kathleen Newell, Kay Chase

 Also Present: Rich Vavra-Musser, Rosemary Horvath, Dave VanderBee, Clark Charnetski, Steve T. Sobel, Tess Craven, Dan Platz, Larry Sobczak, Alan Bond, Diane Patterson, Robert Patterson, J. P. DesCamp

 Call to Order:  Acting Chair Monteith called the meeting to order at 10:10 a.m. 

 Minutes:  Minutes of the Executive Committee Meeting and the General Membership Meeting in Chelsea on April 21 were reviewed.  Langdon moved acceptance of the Executive Committee minutes.  The motion was seconded by Randall and approved by the members present. 

 Langdon then moved acceptance of the General Membership Meeting minutes.  This motion was likewise seconded by Randall and approved by the members present.

 Treasurer’s Report:  Randall then passed out copies of the Treasurer’s Report and highlighted findings.  As of May 31, 2012, MARP’s checking account stood at $11,067.48 and the Pratt Fund was valued at $15,719.87.   At this point in the Fiscal Year, we have hit our target on dues and have expended 39% of our budgeted expenses, an operating ratio of 45.92%.  Randall moved approval of the Treasurer’s Report.  This was seconded by Gurney and approved by the members present.

 Randall then proposed that MARP move its investment account, often referred to as the Pratt Fund, from American Funds Investment Company of America A (AIVSX) to Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Investment (VTSMX).  The prime reason for this recommendation would be cost, down from an expense ratio of 0.61% to 0.18% with Vanguard. 

 Langdon moved acceptance of Randall’s proposal.  This was seconded by Newell and approved by the members present.

 Coordinator Reports:

            Governmental Affairs:  On June 15, Langdon attended the signing of the accord between Michigan Governor Snyder and Canadian Prime Minister Harper clearing the way for construction of a second bridge across the Detroit River just south of Detroit.  MARP has remained neutral on this issue.

On the same day, Langdon joined Hinkins and Fischer at a meeting on a new rail tunnel between Detroit and Windsor.  The consensus of those present was that the tunnel would be built.  Passenger trains would use the existing tunnel and freight would move through the new tunnel.

 On June 10, 11 and 12, Langdon and Chase were in Kalamazoo attending a meeting of the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission.  The group, which has developed the Midwest rail plan now coming to fruition, enjoyed travelling between Porter and Kalamazoo at 110 mph.  One of the Illinois representatives threw out the idea of using a carrier other than Amtrak for Midwest trains.

             Communications:  Larry Sobczak acknowledged problems with the Spring issue of The Michigan Passenger.  Some letters did not print.  The printer has been notified of the problem and will do a small test run before he prints the next issue to be sure that all glitches have been addressed.

             Membership:  Newell noted that the reminder notice had brought in an additional forty renewals as well as several donations.  We are working to be sure that our membership records are current before soliciting new members from the NARP membership list.

             Meetings:  Speaking for Wallington, Gurney announced that the next meeting will take place at the Rapid Central Station in Grand Rapids on Saturday, July 28.  The Annual Meeting is scheduled for Durand Union Station on September 22.  Bob Johnson of Trains magazine will be the principal speaker.  Members were asked to be sure their passports or enhanced driver’s licenses were in order in preparation for the November 10 meeting in Essex, Ontario.

 Langdon suggested a meeting adjacent to the historic depot in Vicksburg sometime in 2013.

 Regional Chapter Reports:

            Southeast Michigan:  Gurney reported that the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority has approved expenditure of funds for WALLY station design.  SEMGOG’s Carmine Palombo reports that during the week of May 7-11, in-motion testing of the MiTrain commuter cars was conducted by Great Lakes Central Railroad in Shiawassee County.  The cars are now verified to safely and comfortably operate at speeds up to 40 mph. Final tests will be done by Amtrak on the Ann Arbor to Detroit corridor at speeds up to 79 mph during July.   Along with the technical testing of brakes, doors and other mechanical features, Amtrak personnel will be on board simulating station stops and familiarizing themselves with the cars.  Once these tests are complete, the cars will be cleared for use as Amtrak special trains.  SEMCOG and MDOT expect the first service to special events will take place in late 2012 or 2013.  The Amtrak certified inspectors, who have inspected refurbished cars in use by other commuter services have declared that the work done by Great Lakes Central is “best in class.”

Charnetski reported that the City of Ann Arbor has voted to accept a $2.8 million grant from the FRA to assist in planning a new passenger station in that city.  The new facility will probably be in the vicinity of the University of Michigan Medical Center, though there is some sentiment for keeping it at the existing location.  The governor is still pushing for a Southeast Michigan Regional Transportation Authority.

 Robert Patterson noted that the Detroit People Mover will soon be thirty years old.  It has had very few problems, though new equipment will soon be needed. 

 Langdon commented that everyone still needs to get on the same page if rail passenger service between Detroit and Windsor is to happen.

 East/Central: No Report.

 Welcome to Muskegon:  At this point, Vice Mayor Stephen Gawron entered the room and welcomed all the City of Muskegon.  He noted that at one time there were rail lines to every industrial site in the community and railroad cars were always being loaded on ferries bound for Kenosha and other points on the other side of Lake Michigan.  Muskegon is the deepest port on the east side of Lake Michigan and Gawron hopes to make it a vital port and a regional transportation center.  The tool and dye industry may lead the way.  Gawron noted that the CVB had been using the beautifully restored Union Station since the 1990’s and the city was now restoring the nearby Grand Trunk Depot.

             West Michigan:  Using Gawron’s welcome as a lead in, Langdon noted his work with the Muskegon CVB and local transportation authorities to establish bus service from Muskegon to Holland to connect with Pere Marquette trains there.  He is also working with the Grand Rapids’ RAPID on better connections between local transit and Amtrak.

 Amtrak has reduced the time certain trains take between Chicago and Kalamazoo, not because 110 mph speeds have been implemented, but to facilitate crew changes at Battle Creek. 

 The City of Grand Rapids has approved a stop for Megabus in that city.  In July, Megabus plans to initiate several daily frequencies connecting Detroit, East Lansing, Grand Rapids and Chicago. 

             Northern MichiganEffective on August 1, 2012, Indian Trails will start serving Charlevoix, Monteith reported.  MDOT, which also funds the Beaver Island Ferry, saw the value of a connection with intercity bus service.  The Indian Trails bus from Lansing which currently terminates at Boyne Falls, will now continue to the dock in Charlevoix.  Langdon sees the possibility that Beaver Island could be and Amtrak Thruway stop. 

Monteith also reported that train service will be renewed to serve mines opening along the Wisconsin-Michigan state line in the Western UP.  Canadian Pacific will operate the service.

 Plans to power the S.S.Badger by natural gas continue.

Adjournment:  The Executive Committee meeting adjourned at 11:30 a.m.


Respectfully Submitted:                                             Accepted:



Hugh D. Gurney                                                         Robert Tischbein

Secretary                                                                     Chair