Businessman discusses train impact
With Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway excursions out of Jim Thorpe set to screech to a halt on Nov. 25, many are left wondering where discussions between the borough and train operator stand.
You can count Molly Maguires Pub owner Darren Behan among them.
On Thursday night, Behan addressed borough council, calling the train’s departure one with national ramifications.
“This goes way beyond Jim Thorpe,” Behan said. “I know people who were recently in Philadelphia and were asked about it there. I was recently in Long Island and asked about it there. I was told The New York Times is thinking of doing a story. If they do it, CNN is going to pick it up. This is growing so big and so fast, I fear we’re going to look pathetic as a town if we don’t do something.”
The railroad announced in October it would be stopping excursion train rides out of Jim Thorpe on Nov. 25 over an amusement tax dispute with the borough.
Berkheimer, the tax collection agency representing Jim Thorpe borough, filed a suit against the railway for nearly $100,000 in unpaid amusement taxes for the past three years.
Since the railroad announced it was stopping train rides, its officials have had at least one private meeting with borough officials to try to work out an agreement.
Borough President Greg Strubinger said again on Thursday that any details of the discussions couldn’t be released at this time.
“They requested the borough sign a nondisclosure agreement, and we’re abiding by that,” Strubinger said.
Behan, meanwhile, said he has spoken with Andy Muller, president of the railroad, regarding his willingness to contribute money to the borough.
“He said he has no problem donating to the municipality to help alleviate the cost of different events and the cost of police, things like that,” Behan said. “He doesn’t want to concede to it being called a tax because then every municipality he runs a train ride through will tax him out of business.”
Strubinger said previously that the borough was open to negotiations over the back taxes and future payments.
“From what I’m told, if the lawsuit doesn’t get dropped it’s game over,” Behan said.
“This can’t get put on the back burner.”