Gentle Forum Members,
10lbReduction, welcome to the Forum as a new member on November 12, 2008. 452card, welcome to the Forum as a new member on October 9, 2008. buxtonmach, welcome to the Forum as a new member on September 29, 2008. It’s good to see you here and I look forward to your posts.
I welcome open discussion regarding our Museum, RMLI, and the state of railroad preservation on Long Island. Constructive, and even harsh, critical criticism can lead to a new view of things and a fresh perspective. Without this discourse, a solution to a challenge may be overlooked and no forward movement will come about.
That said, and I thank all of you for your thoughtful comments, following this posting you will find three lengthy posts that I had written between July 2007 and November 2008. Each of these postings deals with many of the topics presented in this current thread. I invite you to take the time to read these and see if they may satisfy some of your recent questions.
But, before you move to those three postings, a few informative comments particular to this thread are in order.
1. I encourage EVERYONE to visit our Museum site in our historic LIRR freight house at Greenport, New York. It is where we have the space for “exhibits” and the “fine” articles of our RMLI collection are displayed there. The exhibits are rotated and changed from operating season to operating season, May – October. There was a time that “fire cart” was on exhibit at Greenport – it was rotated out to storage in Riverhead. No doubt it will one day again be put on display.
2. . . . . “a lot of infighting and conceptual differences” . . . . Ahhhhhhhh. Gentle Forum Members, in any group, volunteer or paid, there will be differences of opinion on the direction the organization should take. In a “for-profit” enterprise, with paid employees and a rigid structure of owners, shareholders, supervisors and workers – you disagree with the corporate policy handed down from on high – you are out the door, fired! In a “non-profit” all volunteer organization – where every member is a valued asset – we don’t fire people unless there is a serious safety violation. If they become terribly disenfranchised, members may leave on their own. Generally we accommodate and tolerate differences of opinion and try to build a consensus of agreement to move the project or organization forward. This takes time and a great deal of patience on everyone’s part. Not every member is happy all the time, today’s disgruntled volunteer can be the organizations greatest champion in six months or a year from now when his or her pet project has come to the fore. An all volunteer Museum is a living breathing organism that struggles in its growth and feels pain when it contracts.
3. Bar car 2992 is privately owned and is not part of the RMLI collection. Flatcar 110, Jordan Spreader W-93 and cabooses C-64, C-63 and C-60 are the property of the Twin Forks Chapter NRHS. Sandite and Alcohol cars 2907 and W-85 are awaiting a licensing agreement for use by the Twin Forks Chapter. The remaining cars and locomotives on the map are all part of RMLI’s collection. Currently the M-1s are opened for visitors when the Riverhead site is open and a docent is available for a guided tour.
4. I will close this posting with comments on the need for staffing volunteers at our Museum sites.
5. As a Museum chartered by the New York State Education Department, the Trustees of the Railroad Museum of Long Island must be diligent and to the best of their ability protect all of the items and artifacts in the Museum’s collections for the education and knowledge of the residents of New York State. Although we “partner” and work very closely with the New York Transit Museum, there is no plan to merge with them. If for some reason the RMLI ceased to exist, due to its location on Long Island and its mission from the MTA, the New York Transit Museum in Brooklyn would no doubt be the first “sister” Museum to be contacted by RMLI Trustees and the State of New York to receive and take over RMLI collections.
6. Brother Paul and especially Little Paul. Do not for one minute forget who closed down our efforts to work on 1556!
7. We at the Railroad Museum of Long Island dearly miss fellow Trustee Don Bender. For many years Don coordinated our Riverhead docents, gave excellent guided tours of the equipment collection, trained and certified our G-16 locomotive engineers and coordinated all large groups visiting the Museum. He was a cornerstone of the Riverhead operation and will be so hard to replace – but we must try!
8. It was, at one time, a mystery to me why the population of Long Island didn’t “know we were here!” Recently, I presented to the Board of Trustees some fourteen or fifteen pieces of print media, paid advertisements, feature articles, published photographs, (some on the front page of periodicals), local and Island-wide newspapers and free newsprint magazines hawking the RMLI this 2008 season! We have had excellent news and feature coverage all over the Island, we have been on New 12 L.I. and on numerous radio stations. Our website has been redesigned, made more user-friendly and our new webmaster is keeping it up to date. An October video of work on #39’s boiler at Strasburg is on the home page! Our secretary regularly sends out public relations announcements to close to two hundred media outlets!
AND NO ONE KNOWS WE ARE HERE!
Let’s face it, the public does not read and it does not absorb what is written. Information overload desensitizes the population to all but the most titillating news releases of the day. Museums are nice, but like a library, we struggle to pull people away from social activities, sports, entertainment and shopping. Even the prestigious Vanderbilt Museum and Planetarium in Centerport NY may have to close its doors due to lack of funding and interest!
Finally, Long Island’s commuting residents have a love/hate relationship with the Long Island Railroad. Just read the Forums! When so many ride the trains every they are not generally interested in seeking out the “horrible old ways” of rail transportation at a Museum – they already know everything they need to know about trains on Long Island!
That leaves railfans - whom we never seem to please – and families with small children. Kids still love trains and drag their parents, grandparents, siblings and friends to our Museums. Families spend time and MONEY at our Museums. They are our lifeline in the 21st Century to keeping our doors open. We must pay attention to this market and to a large degree cater to it for survival. Only then may we continue to function and try to restore our collection and move forward. Government funding and grants can not sustain the Museum, we must be supported on a local basis to weather the fluctuations in the financial world. And unfortunately, even when they are happy, railfans are notoriously “cheap,” sadly they are not going to do it for us.
9. In closing this post, I want to touch on Museum volunteers and docents. We need them. We need you! On Sundays and Monday holidays Riverhead was closed during the 2008 season. We had no volunteer staff. We desperately need a Volunteer Coordinator for Riverhead in 2009. We need new volunteers in Greenport. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas I will be sending out personal invitations to RMLI members living in Suffolk County. They will be invited to an informational meeting in January to try and recruit more docents, volunteers and a Riverhead Coordinator. You, Gentle Forum Members, new members and the public will be invited. Those who want to “turn a wrench” can volunteer too. We need mechanics, machinists and welders! It will be everyone’s opportunity to support the RMLI and hopefully make a difference. If you are interested, please drop me an e-mail at [email protected]
and I will put you on the invite list. buxtonmach, e-mail me so we can talk, we have wonderful volunteers who can work in wood but very few who know steel!
I look forward to your comments. My three older postings follow:
de Don n2qhvRMLI
Don Fisher, President
Railroad Museum of Long Island
440 – 4th Street
P.O. Box 726
Greenport NY 11944-0726
Restoration Site & Visitor’s Center
416 Griffing Avenue