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Station employee Tony Trecroce (left) and owner Andy Hess on Sunday, September 3, 2017 following what appears to be Hesses’ last train run in Port Elgin. Photo submitted

Hub Staff

It is with great sadness that Andy and Debbie Hess are announcing that the Train and Station will not be opening this Summer in Port Elgin. “We are unfortunately not opening,” the pair said in correspondence to the Hub June 28, adding that they contacted Town officials Tuesday evening in a “last ditch effort” but ultimately an agreement was not reached.

“There is so much we could say but we will be brief,” said the Hesses. “We do feel the need to let our loyal customers, the public, and anyone just passing by The Station [know],” they said.

“That has been our business for almost 30 years, something in which we have taken a lot of pride,” they added.

The Hesses submitted a letter to the Town, consisting of plans for improvements to the property over a 5 year time span, in March, 2018. The Station, which includes a confectionery, a mini-putt course and a replica 1836 American Steam Engine tourist train, is owned by the Hesses but sits on Town land. A draft lease had been submitted to the Hesses this Spring and at the time of publishing, Town officials said they had not received any suggested revisions to the draft lease. The Hesses said the lease was too costly and one sided.

“Naturally we were and still are very upset,” said the Hesses, who say that ideally they would have started opening the first week in May in order to have everything ready for the Victoria Day long weekend. The pair had said as late as Monday evening, June 25, that if an agreement could be reached some time on Tuesday, they could have opened for the Canada Day long weekend.

The Hesses expressed their appreciation for support they have been offered from everyone involved. “Our loyal customers, thousands of train riders young and old,” said the Hesses. “We will treasure the memories and all the pictures forever,” they added.

“Sadly this has made us think what direction we need to take in life,” said Andy and Debbie Hess, “with a business that can never be taken from us,” they added.

“We have owned/operated this business for over half our lives, successfully, with a few good years still left,” they said.