Quick Thoughts on Today’s Lakeland CSX Task Force Meeting

I‘m on a deadline for my job, so for now just a couple of observations about today’s meeting:

1) Though the meeting was open to the public, whoever picked the room didn’t try to find an audience friendly room. The meeting was held in a small city hall conference room. The Task Force sat around a folding table square, the media took four or five chairs outside the square. The rest of the audience grabbed a few chairs left against the wall and Lakeland city staff rushed at the last moment to get chairs for those on the task force. I counted 23 at the table and 21 outside the square.

2) Rick Hood, assistant VP of real estate sales for CSX, effectively ran the meeting by addressing a list questions formed at the private meeting held in April.

3) “We’re going to be neighbors, one way or another.” Rick Hood.

4) Hood addressed the number of additional trains Lakeland should expect: Four: Two coal trains and two other.

4b) But wait. CSX Jacksonville GM, Bob Frulla, emphasized that the city is going to experience longer trains. Current traffic will be consolidated to create trains approximately 9,000 feet in length. That makes the “additional number of trains” is misleading.

4c) A key question media and citizens should start asking: How many additional feet of train traffic will travel through Lakeland on an average day? I’ll speak on that later tonight.

5) It was an hour into the meeting before a member of the audience finally decided to ask a question. I’m sure Lakeland citizens would welcome a forum where CSX could address questions. I’m also sure that would only help CSX’s image.

6) There is a lot of different opinions concerning the speed of trains through Lakeland’s downtown. At today’s meeting, CSX promised to send data to the task force. Has the city’s traffic department performed a study?

7) There was a lot of discussion of Quiet Zones. The bottom line: Lakeland will have spend a lot of money just to get a position to be considered for a Quiet Zone. Florida currently has only one such zone. There was no discussion today of wayside rail crossing horns.

More later tonight…

2 thoughts on “Quick Thoughts on Today’s Lakeland CSX Task Force Meeting

  1. I’m starting to see in the verbage being used by CSX representatives a troubling trend. Recently, I attended a meeting of the EPC100 where Mr. Cameron Wilson of CSX was the presenter. This presentation was days after the DRI ruling from the State. During his presentation, Mr. Wilson several times told the audience of local business professionals that without CSX moving in to the county, there would be none of this potential economic development (paraphrasing of course). Now, I see Mr. Hood stating very clearly, “we’re going to be neighbors, one way or another”.

    Are these supposed to be veiled threats? Was Mr. Cameron suggesting that if pushed too much, CSX may not come to Polk, and along with it, we would lose all this potential economic growth? And Mr. Hood’s “one way or another” statement could easily mean “in a good way or in a bad way” we will be neighbors? Maybe it’s me reading more into it than there is. Obviously, there’s no way a rural, podunk county like ours could ever do anything to seriously hamper the operations of a giant corporation like CSX. I mean, its not like we caused the State to revisit the DRI issue or anything. Hmmmmmmmm…….?

  2. I’m starting to see in the verbage being used by CSX representatives a troubling trend. Recently, I attended a meeting of the EPC100 where Mr. Cameron Wilson of CSX was the presenter. This presentation was days after the DRI ruling from the State. During his presentation, Mr. Wilson several times told the audience of local business professionals that without CSX moving in to the county, there would be none of this potential economic development (paraphrasing of course). Now, I see Mr. Hood stating very clearly, “we’re going to be neighbors, one way or another”.

    Are these supposed to be veiled threats? Was Mr. Cameron suggesting that if pushed too much, CSX may not come to Polk, and along with it, we would lose all this potential economic growth? And Mr. Hood’s “one way or another” statement could easily mean “in a good way or in a bad way” we will be neighbors? Maybe it’s me reading more into it than there is. Obviously, there’s no way a rural, podunk county like ours could ever do anything to seriously hamper the operations of a giant corporation like CSX. I mean, its not like we caused the State to revisit the DRI issue or anything. Hmmmmmmmm…….?

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