2017-10-07 / Front Page

Caboose sold; Arboretum future back in doubt

Built by the mighty Buffalo & Susquehanna Railroad in 1904, the historic caboose that has welcomed eastbound visitors to Coudersport’s business district for decades appears to be heading into the portfolio of a real estate developer.

Coudersport Area Chamber of Commerce directors last week agreed to sell the Coudersport & Port Allegany caboose at the entrance to the Coudersport Arboretum. At press time, directors were exploring options in an effort to ensure the caboose remains part of the Arboretum.

They were approached last week with a $1,000 offer from John Wright – acting in his capacity as executive director of the Potter County Housing and Redevelopment Authority. Despite that, the sales agreement ended up being to John Wright personally.

Little did Chamber directors know that Wright was acting on behalf of developer Tom Majot, who has pulled out all of the stops in a campaign to acquire the real estate where the caboose now sits so he can lease it to the Sheetz convenience store chain.

Chamber leaders said they made the sale out of financial desperation, since the agency is having difficulty meeting its monthly financial obligations and was recently notified that it would be responsible for liability insurance for the caboose.

Chamber board members said they believed the hastily drafted sales agreement, which was being scrutinized by lawyers for both sides at press time, obligated the buyer to refurbish the caboose and return it to its current location.

However, the provision to place it back in the arboretum is not specifically spelled out in the contract, which has already been signed. Without the caboose, the park might not qualify for historical preservation protection that has been upheld by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in other communities.

Some community members have reacted harshly to reports of the caboose sale, directing their wrath at the volunteers who serve their community as Chamber of Commerce leaders.

Meanwhile, as Endeavor News reported last week, Coudersport Borough Council is on record in opposition to selling the section of the arboretum that Majot covets. However, new Council members elected on Nov. 7 will be sworn in during January and the decision could be revisited. Two holdover members of the current six-person Council are strong advocates of selling the property.

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