The little iconic train that carried generations of families at the Port Elgin Beach has left the station for the last time. It is gone for good.
It was an emotional time as Andy Hess, the train’s owner, had it lifted by crane on to a flatbed truck to be carted away to storage on Saturday morning, July 13th, ending an era.
The Town of Saugeen Shores had given Andy and Debbie Hess until July 19th of this week to remove all their personal property from the Train Station. The Hesses, who purchased the business in the 1980s, ran the operation for almost 40 years. When they applied to Council for another five year-lease, the lease had gone from a five-page document to 17 pages and could be terminated at any time by the Town with 30 days notice, which the Hesses did not accept.
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Despite efforts to sell the business, building, train and tracks, a sale did not materialize and the Hesses were then informed that they had a deadline of July 19th and properties that were not removed by then would be demolished, or sold, and all expenses during the process would have to be paid by the Hesses.
In the meantime, the Town issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the location and received a proposal from Pier Doninni, owner of the Queen’s Bar & Grill in Port Elgin and Architect Dan Murawsky. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) sets out that food and commercial along with recreation will be part of the proposal and the Town is considering a 50-year lease.