Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Western Reserve Model Railroad Museum Is Leaving Mentor

From Mentor Patch: Western Reserve Model Railroad Museum Is Leaving Mentor
The trains are leaving Mentor – the miniature model trains.

After receiving an eviction notice ordered by Mentor Municipal Court for failing to pay more than $120,000 in rent and utilities, the Western Reserve Model Railroad Museum, 7320 Justin Way, has closed and is reportedly moving to Eastlake.

A brief statement on the museum’s website says it officially closed Aug. 9. The court-ordered eviction says the museum must move out by Monday.

The museum has not made any rent or utility payments since June 2010, according to a Lake County Common Pleas civil lawsuit filed last month by the museum’s landlord Ohio Realty Advisors LLC of Richfield Township. Ohio Realty is suing the museum and its curator and board director Rick Montgomery for more than $120,000, plus attorney fees and other costs.

The museum’s financial crisis surfaced last spring when Montgomery made a public plea for donations. In April, he received a letter from the landlord that eviction was inevitable. Montgomery said millions of dollars of expected state and federal grants as well as corporate contributions never materialized.

When interviewed by Mentor Patch in April, Montgomery said he received notifications in early 2010 that the museum would not receive the grants and corporate contributions because of either government policy changes or economic conditions.

“It’s disappointing. Certainly, they had a growing following and it certainly was a unique attraction in the city and in the region,” said Ron Traub, Mentor’s economic development director. “It’s unfortunate that the museum has been impacted by the same difficult economy that has affected nonprofits and for-profits alike. We wish them well in their new home.”

Traub said the city was working with Montgomery to help the museum find another facility in Mentor. Montgomery also was looking at holding bingo and Texas Hold’em events to raise funds for the museum.

“It’s been the interpretation of the police chief that Texas Hold’em is gambling and therefore not permitted in the city,” said Traub.

Montgomery has said the museum attracted about 30,000 visitors a year. According to its website, the Western Reserve Model Railroad Museum, established in 2004, is the largest model railroad museum of its type in the world with 26 model train displays and more than 2,600 feet of track

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