Trolley Museum receives WLPA donation
By Gregory A. Scibelli - Staff Writer
Windsor Locks - posted Thu., May. 12, 2011
The recent dissolution of the Windsor Locks Preservation Association comes with great disappointment and sadness for its former members, but it benefited another cause on May 7, as the Connecticut Trolley Museum received $44,000 - the funds remaining from the group.
WLPA co-founder Barbara Schley said the trolley museum was the overwhelming choice of the group, which was attempting to preserve the Windsor Locks train depot owned by Amtrak. The WLPA members had been negotiating with town officials to get involved with the site. They had also worked tirelessly, raising money through grants and donations, to help restore the site and make it open to the public for historic viewing. In order to accomplish this, the WLPA needed a letter from the Town of Windsor Locks Board of Selectmen.
“The selectmen had too many concerns, and it became very clear that the letter was not going to be coming,” said Schley. “We then had several meetings back and forth and we made the very hard decision to disband the group.”
Schley cleared up some misconceptions about the remaining funds that were donated to the trolley museum, saying they were specifically in accordance with the bylaws set up by the group.
“Our group was a non-profit 501(c) group,” said Schley. “As a result, we were required to have a mission statement and follow specific bylaws of the group.”
She explained the bylaws even specify how the disbanding of the group is conducted. The bylaw requires a ballot be sent out and collected to decide how the remaining funds will be used, since they cannot be used for their original purpose.
“In our case, the bylaw also states that it must specifically go to a group or organization that deals with ‘historic preservation,’” she said. “When some groups began applying to us, we had to rule them out because they did not specifically fit that description. We think that confused some people. We would have loved to have given some of the money to the Lions or other service organizations, but they were not permitted under our rules,” said Schley.
The Board of Directors narrowed the recipients down to three finalists, with the trolley museum - a local favorite among history enthusiasts – chosen as the finalist.
The funds will be used at the trolley museum for two main purposes. About $13,000 will be spent on the restoration of the Bangor and Aroostook Caboose. The rest of money will be used for the rehabilitation for the Isle of Safety, a platform in extreme disrepair.
For 60 years, the Isle of Safety was used as a shelter for people waiting for streetcars, and later, buses. In 1976, the city of Hartford changed the traffic plan for State Street, which required the removal of the Isle of Safety. At that point, it was moved to the corner of Asylum and Trumbull Streets. Later, the Isle of Safety was moved to the Connecticut Trolley Museum and placed as a waiting shelter in North Road Station.
The caboose came from Maine and served as living quarters for train crews in the early 1900s. It was later moved to the trolley museum and is in need of repairs.