Meeting Minutes — DURAND – July 28, 2018

MARP Executive Committee Meeting
Durand Union Station
28 July 2018

Present: Steve Vagnozzi, Robert Patterson, John Langdon, Kay Chase, Adam Tauno Williams, Mark Miller (arrive 11:00), Charles Shong (arrive 11:00)

Absent: Robert Tischbein

Guests: Dan Platz (co-coordinator, with Robert Tischbein, of Membership Committee), Joshua Hamilton (candidate for East/Central Region Chair); Tom Purmort (candidate for Vice-Chair); Barb Spaulding-Westcott (Crossroads Village-Huckleberry Railroad)

  1. Call to Order: 10:40 am Quorum is present (5 of 8), 2 more members arrived at 11am
  2. Approval of Agenda: Vagnozzi asks to remove item IV.f related to reimbursement for certain outreach expenses. Williams moves, Langdon seconds, to approve agenda with the deletion. Unanimously approved.

III. Approval of Minutes of the 28 May 2018 Meeting: Deferred approval since the minutes were not sent out

  1. Discussion Items


  1. Williams – Remaining 2018 Meetings

During the Grand Rapids Art Prize, September 19 to October 7, planning a MARP  “event” that will be widely promoted to GVSU students and the community at large. Purmort suggests partnering with West Michigan Express in promoting the MARP “event”.
Annual Meeting will be held in Dearborn.

Attempts to make contact with Universities to hold MARP events on campus have been unproductive. Chase suggests making contact with a specific campus group. MARP members with .edu email addresses could also be an avenue for making contact.

  1. b) Membership and Executive Committee Recruitment

Election of officers takes place at the Annual Meeting in even-numbered years. Langdon asks Chair to appoint a nominating committee.

Vagnozzi willing to continue as chair until the fall election of officers, but will not seek a 2nd term. He will also assume, with agreement of executive committee, the duties of treasurer until a replacement is found for Stewart Bolinger, whose letter of resignation was submitted to the committee today. Committee concurs.

Chase distributes list of members who have attended one or more meetings. This may be helpful in identifying potential candidates. She will add hometowns, arrange by region and email to committee members.

  1. c) Treasurer’s report

As of 25 July, total receipts are $6,522, disbursements are $4,435.  Donations ($257) are lagging, but may pick up with year-end appeal.  Dues receipts from 152 renewals and 12 new members total $4,800.  93 of the 2017 members have not yet renewed. $500 Grant to Durand Union Station, Inc., has been paid, as well as dues to Transportation Riders United (TRU), Midwest High Speed Rail Assoc. (MHSRA), and Michigan Environmental Council (MEC). Rail Passengers Association dues are pending. Major expenses include The Michigan Passenger newspaper, outreach and governmental affairs activities. Checking Account Reconciliation Summary show a bank balance of $12,521.

The Vanguard investment fund was valued at around $24,700 at the end of March.

Langdon gives background on the Michigan by Rail project, a line item in the budget, and the MEC grant MARP receives to support our work on this initiative (Coast-to-Coast, A2TC, Wally). With a new legislature in January 2019, there will be a significant effort with “meet’n greets”, emphasizing progress with passenger transportation, “last mile” concerns, Amtrak Thruway services.

  1. d) Executive Committee Member Reports

Charles Shong, West Regional Chair: compiling a list of Colleges in the west region and making contacts particularly with student groups – distributed The Michigan Passenger to various locations around the region – wonders about a questionnaire to candidates –  developing a fact sheet to give to candidates – Vagnozzi will work with Shong in developing a fact sheet, send to Chase  for comment

Kay Chase, Communications Coordinator: Deadline for submissions for the Autumn issue of The Michigan Passenger is mid-September. Purmort volunteers to write the “From the Boardroom” column. Williams will submit an article for use in either the newspaper or ON TRACK.

Robert Patterson, Detroit/Metro Region Chair: distributes copies of a Resolution circulated by RailPac, suggesting it be adapted to Michigan.

John Langdon, Governmental and Public Affairs Coordinator: special trains for Holland Tulip Time successful – 270+ passengers per train – doesn’t know what the revenue was – success bolsters argument for a 2nd frequency on the PM – 10 station staff people have retired and been replaced with caretakers (Amtrak agents cost $120,000 per year, caretakers about $20,000) – Charger locomotives will decrease operating costs of Michigan trains – Michigan budget is not transparent, thus difficult to know exactly what is budgeted for trains – entire Amtrak network now bike friendly – MARP can help distribute flyers to bike shops, stations, etc. – suggestion that MARP partner with Michigan League of Bicyclists to get the word out

  1. e) MDOT Draft Five-Year Transportation Program Input

Vagnozzi asks Purmort to look over the document, specifically the rail sections, with idea of developing “official” MARP comment. In the meantime, individuals may submit their own comments. Shong points out that updates are done each year to guide project implementation over the next 5 years. The rail portion is very general, focusing on the budgetary implications of implementation.

12:25 pm    short break

12:43 pm reconvene

  1. Action Items


  1. a) Filling Vacancies (Vice-Chair and East/Central Regional Chair)

    Williams moves, Miller seconds, to approve Tom Purmort to fill the vacant vice-chair position. Unanimously approved.

Langdon moves, Williams seconds, to approve Joshua Hamilton to fill vacant East/Central Region chair position. Unanimously approved.

Hamilton suggests MARP look at the student activities area in the MSU Student Union where we might be able to display materials; also think about raffling a ticket to Chicago. Vagnozzi asks Hamilton to pursue this idea.

Shong – suggests outreach at Capitol Farmer’s Market (CATA Clean Air Commute displays here) – Vagnozzi will make contact with CATA.

  1. b) Southwest Chief Letter to Amtrak CEO

    Hugh Gurney has drafted a letter to Amtrak CEO, Richard Anderson, protesting plans to break the route of the Southwest Chief into three sections, with passengers transferring to buses for the Dodge City KS to Albuquerque NM section. The letter would be cc’ed to Anthony Coscia, President of the Amtrak Board, and Jim Matthews, CEO of Rail Passengers Association.

Williams moves, Langdon seconds, to approve sending the letter. Following discussion, motion passed unanimously with the addition that the letter be cc’ed to the entire Michigan Congressional delegation.

  1. c) Committee agrees that it is not necessary to revise the budget at this time
  2. d) Other

Platz suggests promoting MARP’s 45th Anniversary with appeal to members to donate $1 for each year they have been a member. Vagnozzi suggests an alternative: “suggest” a donation of $45 and recognize individuals donating that amount in the Annual Meeting program.

Discussion of possible election activities: develop a candidate questionnaire and publish responses (Chase points out that 501(c)3 organizations are advised caution in doing this); develop a briefing paper to be distributed to all gubernatorial and legislative candidates.

Discussion of an action alert to our members who have “opted-in”. Chase will pull out talking points from the SW Chief letter, circulate to EC and then send to the “opt-in” members

  1. Adjournment – Meeting adjourned at 1:20 pm.

Respectfully submitted,


                       Kay Chase                                             Steve Vagnozzi_________________                                                                  

Acting Secretary                                                          Chair