LOGNASPORT - Logansport's mayor has agreed to support the relocation of the Indiana Transportation Museum and its assets to Cass County.

Mayor Dave Kitchell and ITM Board Chairman John McNichols signed a Memorandum of Understanding Friday, in which Kitchell agrees to work with the museum board to find short-term placement for railroad assets before the end of 2017.

He also pledges to work with the board to "shape a sustainable, viable, long-term master plan for its operations in Logansport and/or Cass County."

Kitchell also said he will support ITM's effort to seek grant funding and good-will donations to sustain its operation.

"While this agreement commits no advance funding or promises of funding or abatement by the mayor or the city on the museum's behalf, it commits the Mayor's Office to make the museum an ongoing priority to preserve its mission in Logansport or Cass County," according the MOU.

Friday's signing is the culmination of a seven-month effort to expand or relocate ITM from its home in Forest Park, to Logansport.

Kitchell said he approached the museum's leadership about moving to Logansport at the beginning of the year.

"We contacted (ITM) in January or February, and after some discussion among its board members, some meetings, phone calls and emails, we had them up here about 2 months ago for a lengthy meeting," Kitchell said.

Logansport has a long railroad history, and Kitchell said there are three of four locations, with rail spurs, available for a future ITM location.

"I went after (ITM). They didn't go after us," Kitchell said.

Kitchell said in the long term, Logansport would like to see ITM make the move to the city.

"I know the political climate (in Hamilton County) hasn't been too favorable to them lately, so while (Friday's) announcement was about an expansion, the long term would be to move it up here," he said.

Kitchell said there hasn't been any potential incentives discussed. The Logansport City Council, nor the Cass County leaders haven't seen any legislation regarding ITM.

"We can't give tax abatement, because it's a non-profit, but we have land available, about 20 acres over several properties," Kitchell said.

John McNichols did not respond to a request for comment.

ITM has been embroiled in political and legal disputes with the Hoosier Heritage Port Authority since 2016 when the HHPA shut down both the Polar Express and the Indiana State Fair Train, citing safety issues with the Nickel Plate Railroad. ITM operated both excursion trains.

HHPA presented ITM with a list of 13 improvements to be made before the trains could run again.In June the authority sought proposals for a new operator of the railroad, and received five from various groups, including ITM.

However ITM later filed a federal lawsuit against HHPA, the cities of Noblesville and Fishers, and Hamilton County, among others, claiming its civil rights were violated when it was ordered to cease operation of the Polar Bear Express and the Indiana State Fair Train in 2016.

Museum leadership also filed for a temporary restraining order, asking the US District Court for the Southern District of Indiana enjoining HHPA from announcing its decision on an operator for the Nickel Plate Railroad.

The restraining order request was denied Thursday.