The city of Noblesville and the Noblesville Parks and Recreation Board are taking action against the Indiana Transportation Museum. The city says the organization’s handling of hazardous chemicals at its location within Forest Park has put ITM in "serious default" of its lease of the grounds.
Noblesville says an inspection of the grounds found "serious issues" with the outside storage of fluids and items that could pose an environmental risk, such as container leakage and ground stains of oils, grease, diesel fuel and other products. ITM conducts maintenance of its former railroad operations at the site.
The city has told the organization to begin immediate containment measures for all stored liquid materials, which are to be completed with 60 days. ITM must also develop a plan for permanent removal of the contamination, provide contact information for the person or environmental firm hired to supervise the work and identify the location where the materials are to be safely disposed within the next 90 days.
"Despite numerous efforts over the years to encourage ITM to address some housekeeping concerns they have allowed within their property, the Parks Board had no idea what hazardous conditions existed on the other side of the fence," said Scott Noel, president of the Noblesville Parks and Recreation Board. "We are disappointed that ITM has violated the terms of its lease with the Parks Board and by allowing their carelessness to endanger one of the greatest assets in the City of Noblesville – Forest Park."
The city’s inspector found no imminent environmental threats, however the Indiana Department of Environmental Management plans to inspect the grounds this week and the city has also hired an independent environmental firm to "provide oversight and guidance."
Noblesville says if ITM doesn’t comply with the request for containment and remediation, it will be forced to take further action.
Last year, ITM was forced to halt operation of the Indiana State Fair Train due to safety concerns raised by volunteers. The Hoosier Heritage Port Authority, which maintains and oversees the Nickel Plate railroad line, suspended ITM’s use of the line until 13 specific items were addressed.
Earlier this year, the cities of Noblesville and Fishers announced plans to transform nine miles of the Nickel Plate line into a walking and biking trail.