Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, Sept. 20, 1999

City will give support but not cash for Humphrey Museum project

By Luis Puga

Waverly City Council opted to support the Humphrey Museum project in all areas except financially at Tuesday's regular meeting.

Mayor Charles Bush called the $3.5 million project ambitious and said the city would like the renovation/restoration project to go through.

However, on advice from the League of Minnesota Cities, he felt he could not vote for approving a $5,000 donation to the project.

Catherine Jackson, president of the museum, argued that the project would benefit the city above all others as the western metro's most prominent tourist attraction. She also noted that many donators and investors to the project would like to see the city get behind the project before they would give support.

She also noted that a stipulation to the $1 million grant from the state was that the city pay for an addition to the building for handicap accessibility.

That addition, originally thought to be at the rear of the building, is now designed as an elevator in the front for handicap accessibility.

She added that the museum was very committed to the project and has even hired a professional fund-raiser.

Bush said the museum should not take the council's reluctance to donate as a flat out "no," but that the city could, at this time, only support the project in its preliminary stage through other means. This was also due to the fact that a survey had indicated that most residents would not like to "support" the museum project.

Irene Bender, museum director, felt the survey was poorly worded and should have indicated that the museum was more of an economic development project that would bring in tourists and their dollars.

Bush maintained his position, which the council in general agreed with, but added that if the newly formed Economic Development Authority (EDA) approved the project, he would be more willing to add financial support to the project. He recommended that the museum look for support through the EDA.

Other concerns included parking and the fate of Wright Co. Rd. 9 which runs past the museum. Jackson asked of the possibility of rerouting the road to which Bush replied that it might very well happen.

She asked the city to include parking and sidewalks from Fourth Street to the highway and to include one of her board members in discussions with the county regarding the road's development.

Bush added that a park and ride would be developed by the county's highway department and could be used by the museum for bus parking.

Bush reiterated the fact that financial support was not impossible, but not possible at this time.

Jackson said that it would be a shame not to take advantage of the grant money and noted that it was very beneficially legislated as a non-matching grant at the state.

She noted that someone at the legislature had been very helpful in writing the grant that way, but did not know who.

A member of the planning and zoning commission added that the commission had thrown its approval behind the project.

Bush again reiterated his point and added that the city believes it will have a $50,000 to $100,000 certificate of deposit come to term that would go to benefit economic development projects that could include the museum.

He again recommended the EDA as the proper channel to solicit the project and to form a lease agreement for the old town hall property.

A presentation was also made by Bender of the project's preliminary design schematics. About $1.5 million of the cost will be in exhibits alone. Many of the exhibits will be interactive and are designed to be comparable to metro area museums, according to Bender.

The project will also include restoring the 1940s village hall, having a community center/cafeteria in the basement, and two floors of exhibits geared towards four themes.

They are Hubert Humphrey ­ The Humanitarian, The Food for Peace Program, Civil Rights, and Vietnam.

The museum will also be asking for $1.5 million from its donors for an endowment fund to operate the museum.

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