Red tape railroads model trains
LAWRENCE’S first and only model railway attraction has been forced to close due to fears of litigation.
Devastated by his predicament, operator of the charitable attraction, David Lorenzo, reluctantly closed his doors to the public on Thursday, the day after The Daily Examiner ran a story promoting the new attraction.
David said he was called by the Professionals Real Estate agency on Thursday, who told him in no uncertain terms to close his doors.
“They said ‘you don’t have a commercial lease, cease immediately or we’ll evict you’,” David said.
“They told me the only way I could keep operating was to get a commercial lease and public liability insurance.”
Shocked by the phone call, David began investigating his options to insure the exhibition and discovered that on top of the costs of a new lease, he would be up for nearly $1000 in insurance costs.
“All so I can donate the money to Lawrence Public School,” he said. “It’s just ridiculous.”
Lawrence Tavern publican John Hoy, whose business is metres away from David’s exhibition inside the old Baptist church, said the exhibition was great for the town of Lawrence and his business had received some spin-off trade.
“It’s just paper warfare ... we are the most over-regulated country in the world,” Mr Hoy said.
David said the church had been up for sale for nearly four years and had recently dropped to the asking price of $235,000.
He said he currently paid $200 per week rent and if he was allowed to display his trains he would be interested in a long-term lease.
David said he was looking for a new place to exhibit but did not expect to find anything suitable in Lawrence.
“Other people have said they’d be more than happy to rent me a place if they had one,” he said.
Professionals Real Estate at Maclean declined to comment on the matter. One source, who preferred not to be named, said the landlord of the site may be open to lawsuits if the proper lease and insurance were not in place.
The exhibition, which opened its doors to the public on Boxing Day last year, had raised $162 for Lawrence Public School and had attracted well over 100 visitors in its short public life.
A despondent David said yesterday he had looked into forming an association or club to get around the red tape but nothing had properly solved his problem.
“I just feel like packing it all up,” he said.