“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” -Abraham Lincoln
This quote came to mind as I watched the drama unfold between the Indiana Transportation Museum and the City of Noblesville. We are in the final stages of ITM’s eviction from Forest Park.
This is a real David and Goliath story. However, unlike in the Bible, Goliath will end up winning this battle. The city has always held all the cards. It is the landlord, it has seats on the Hoosier Heritage Port Authority (which owns the tracks) and it has the deep pockets and formidable firepower of a taxing authority. The ITM is a nonprofit that depends on donations and train fares to pay its bills and is run by volunteers. Still, it managed to successfully operate trains in Hamilton County for decades.
But ITM didn’t have a chance once the city decided it was time to go. The landlord brought all available public resources to bear on the hapless nonprofit. It’s all perfectly legal, but that doesn’t mean it’s right.
But this letter is about character. When an organization the size of the City of Noblesville takes aim at one the size of ITM, I believe the larger group should show a little mercy and work in a spirit of cooperation to set things right. None of that happened here. ITM can’t even use the tracks to get the cars to safety because the city won’t let it. It’s shameful.
As Noblesville loses a treasured public asset, we need to consider whether our leaders did right by the ITM. They represent us, and the decisions they make should reflect our values. I’m not proud of the way my city has treated the ITM, and I intend to do what I can to make sure this kind of thing doesn’t happen again.