NEB&W (RPI) layout being MOVED to ???

Tim O'Connor

Message forwarded from John Nehrich

The RPI club layout is one of the finest layouts in America. I hope this goes well
and doesn't become a tragedy. I've operated regularly on the layout for several years
and I've been visiting it for almost 30 years, and it has just gotten better and better
over time. And it had regular participation of RPI students too. The twice yearly
operating sessions attracted at least 40 people at a time including many RPI alumni.

Tim O'Connor
Sterling, Massachusetts


Hi, I'm trying to send out this info to all our active club members and supporters but in my rush, I'm sure I'm overlooking many - please spread the word and for anyone who hears about this only secondhand, I sincerely apologize.

We have just gotten word that shortly, perhaps a few weeks, a professional mover is going to come in and crate up sections of the layout, along with everything else, and move them out of Davison.  These will either be stored in a warehouse or if we are lucky, moved to a new permanent home.  The school wants to rehab Davison over the summer with all new plumbing, etc., but wants the layout now.  At first when they were talking about this, they were figuring they would totally box in the layout to protect it from swinging pipes around, but they would have to remove the backdrop and build us a whole new one.  On reconsideration, they figured it would be better to move us instead.

So where?  Barb Nelson, who used to work at RPI in space allocation, is now the Executive Director of TAP Inc. (Troy Architectural Program) and wants very much for us to move to some place where the layout can readily be seen by the public.  She is very sympathetic to our needs and attuned to the entire downtown building boom.  She thinks there may be some appropriate space downtown opening up.  Many developers are having a hard time filling their first floor with retailers, and she sees the layout as generating a lot of foot traffic.  We don’t have anything definite yet.  If it does, our role might change, whether we stay a part of RPI, be a collaboration with say the county historical society, become totally independent, or who knows what.  We know one important consideration no matter what would be to ensure this is a permanent home.

Or we have been talking about a new building, a simple (and thus cheap) steel shell building on a concrete pad floor somewhere on RPI property.

For years and years, we have looked at moving to an existing location in an unused space, but we take up far more room than people think.  And if we were to move into J Building or Winslow, even if we fit – we don’t – it would cost so much to remove walls, etc.  But now we are talking about a prime location, not a spare attic or unused basement.

Please spread the word to EVERYONE you can think of.  Massive amounts of publicity are needed, and soon, both word-of-mouth and professional media.  In this way, we may reach some wealthy benefactor, or even just convince the school the importance of not letting us wither away in storage.  We will be looking into some type of go-fund-me campaign, hopefully in conjunction say with a local historical group.  (We probably can’t do it under RPI without stepping on some toes).

The contract to move us has yet to be signed, but they are aiming for a few weeks.  Then we will know the timetable but it likely to be soon after.  Once we have a definite date, we are hopeful of holding one last operating session.  If you know of individuals who need to see the layout, I can set up an individual tour - it may be now or never.   

  - John Nehrich

Tim O'Connor
Sterling, Massachusetts

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