2017-10-14 / Front Page

Caboose now in hands of developer


Coudersport’s Arboretum is likely to be moved from its current location in downtown Coudersport. The park’s centerpiece, the historic caboose, has been purchased by local developer Tom Majot who hopes to have it moved elsewhere in the borough. Majot’s the owner of the Sheetz property that sits adjacent to the park. He has been trying for over a year to purchase the .35-acre parcel on which the park is situated to make way for a major expansion ot the convenience store. That piece is owned by the borough and council has refused to sell it, despite a $350,000 offer from Majot. Coudersport’s Arboretum is likely to be moved from its current location in downtown Coudersport. The park’s centerpiece, the historic caboose, has been purchased by local developer Tom Majot who hopes to have it moved elsewhere in the borough. Majot’s the owner of the Sheetz property that sits adjacent to the park. He has been trying for over a year to purchase the .35-acre parcel on which the park is situated to make way for a major expansion ot the convenience store. That piece is owned by the borough and council has refused to sell it, despite a $350,000 offer from Majot. A miscommunication among board members is apparently to blame for the Coudersport Chamber of Commerce’s unanimous vote to sell the caboose, the centerpiece of the arboretum in downtown Coudersport, to John Wright, who then transferred it to land developer Tom Majot.

Several weeks ago, Wright asked a board member if the chamber would be willing to sell the caboose to him privately. By the time the offer got to the full chamber board, at least half of the members believed the buyer was actually the Potter County Redevelopment Authority, which employs Wright. There is no recording of the meeting -- only minutes noted by the secretary as a vote to sell to “John Wright of the Redevelopment Authority.”

The initial bill of sale even listed the Redevelopment Authority after Wright’s name, but was “whited out” by Wright and chamber vice president Mark Moore at the time of the document’s signing. Wright even went an extra step and wrote the word “individual” next to his signature on the bill of sale.

“Hey, I’ve been at this a lot of years,” said Wright, who is in his 38th year as executive director of the Redevelopment Authority. “A lot of times, I think, people just assume that if it’s me, it’s the agency. But, in this case, it was me personally and that was made abundantly clear with the board members I talked to.”

Wright also said he had made it clear he was representing local developer Tom Majot, who was not

“They knew I was representing Tom,” Wright explained, noting that he was listed as an “agent for (an) investor” on the bill of sale. “Whether or not they (the board members with whom he spoke) conveyed that to the full board, I don’t know. I did not attend the meeting when they held the vote.”

The caboose is now solely in the hands of Majot, who wrote a personal check for $1,000 to buy it.

Majot and Wright each contend the chamber was willing to take a dollar for the caboose just to relieve themselves of the liability and to make certain it was restored.

Majot has promised to keep the caboose in the community, as demanded by the Chamber.

“It really is a beautiful piece of machinery,” Majot said. “It would be beautiful sitting at home on my property, but it really doesn’t belong to me. It belongs to the community and it’s going to stay theirs and it’s going to stay in Coudersport.”

The bill of sale requires Majot to ensure the caboose is returned to the borough after it has been restored.

Majot plans to donate the caboose to the Potter County Historical Society, which had shown earlier interest in its restoration.

“Everybody wins,” Majot said. “The caboose will end up where it belongs -- in the hands of the historical society. They will restore it to its original beauty and people will be able to actually go inside of it and see a little bit of our history.”

As it stands, the caboose is in deteriorating shape and visitors to the park are not allowed inside. A separate passenger car similar to those that once road the rails of the Coudersport & Port Allegany Railroad is also on the arboretum grounds. That car, the former C&PA train station and the veterans’ memorial wall would not be affected by the property sale and relocation of the caboose.

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