Pacific to Sell Museum Building to Knights - The Missourian: Local News

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Pacific to Sell Museum Building to Knights

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Posted: Wednesday, December 25, 2013 5:32 pm

The city of Pacific will sell the Wolf residence at 206 W. Union St., which houses the Meramec Valley History Museum, to the Father Edward Berry Council Knights of Columbus.

Aldermen approved the sale at the Dec. 17 board meeting.

Sale price of the property is $135,000, which will be received in full since the building was not listed with a real estate agent at the time of the sale and no commission will be paid on the sale.

The property had previously been listed with two different real estate firms, at different times, but no sale resulted from those listings, according to City Administrator Harold Selby.

No closing date was set for the sale and no date given for when the city will turn the building over to the KC Council.

Criticizes City

Jeannie Bandermann, historical museum secretary, protested the sale and pleaded with aldermen to change their minds. She read a lengthy letter criticizing city officials for keeping museum directors in the dark.

Bandermann said she was reading the letter on behalf of the museum committee.

“The museum committee was formed in 1999 by Mayor Jill Pigg and Alderman Jeff Titter. Edna Myers was the secretary. We met at the former city hall one Saturday of each month,” she said. “We have come a long way. We would like aldermen to reconsider Wolf house to be the best place to have a museum. You need to listen to us and the people of Pacific.

“If some aldermen had their way we would not have a museum . . . I hope and pray the aldermen will act with common sense, conscience and listen to the people. Elections are coming up and we need new blood and people who will listen to us.”

Alderman Carol Johnson, who serves as aldermanic liaison to the museum, said there had not been a meeting of the museum directors authorizing Bandermann to write the letter or speak for the museum so the comments were Bandermann’s personal opinion.

Johnson also said Bandermann had posted comments on Facebook, which had drawn uncomplimentary comments about the city.

“I’m not proud of what I saw on Facebook,” Johnson said.

Johnson also noted that the building had never belonged to the museum, but had been loaned as a temporary home. She said she and Alderman Mike Bates were the only aldermen who had been on the board when the property was purchased.

“It was not purchased as a museum,” she said. “Mayor Titter was going to build a city hall there. I saw the plans he drew up for the city hall.”

Selby said even without the sale of the building, the future of the museum in that location was in doubt. He said a representative of MIRMA, the city’s insurance company, had recently visited the museum and determined that the building lacked certain amenities that are required in public buildings.

“I don’t believe we could keep the doors open on the building as a museum unless you’re willing to put out a lot of money,” he said.

Selby said selling the building to the KC was a good move for the entire community. He said the organization could coordinate use of the building with St. Bridget of Kildare Church and School, which are located across the street.

“They can share the use of the kitchen and have many events there,” he said. “After fund-raising they would be able to expand the building.”

Selby also noted that the sale of the building did not end the city’s commitment to the museum committee.

“Even though the building is sold, the Meramec Valley History Museum committee will still be a committee in the city,” he said. “This week I talked with Jeff Titter and he wanted me to pass on that he fully understands that he knew the building was not bought for a museum. I assured him that the search would go on to have a place for the museum items.”

Alderman Mike Bates said he wanted to echo Johnson’s comments.

“I’m sympathetic to the museum,” Bates said. “I was liaison to the museum and was proud to do it, but it was always a temporary home.”

Bates also said he thought the Hoven house would be the right place for the museum.

“I haven’t seen a museum anywhere that represents a museum better than the Hoven house,” Bates said. “I have yet to hear anyone say it shouldn’t have a committee or a home. The museum needs to have a home, but it must function.”

Mayor Responds

Mayor Herb Adams said the sale of the Wolf property had never been hidden from the museum committee.

“Aldermen talked about it, the community talked about it, we put signs up,” he said. “No one is caught by surprise after tonight.”

Adams also noted that the Hoven house is still for sale.

“If someone brings an offer, the aldermen will have final say so,” he said. “At that time, we will talk about the sale of property and future of the museum. It might be determined that the museum is not in the best interest of our city.”

Alderman Ed Gass said the city should take care to put into containers and store all the museum materials.

Gass also said the future of downtown will be enhanced by having the Knights of Columbus there.

Selby said he would meet with the museum committee and directors when the property closes and the city has to get out of the building. He said the staff would do the necessary planning to pack and store the items.

“Some of the museum’s property is now located off site at some members’ homes, which will need to be brought back to the museum,” Selby said.

Johnson said any items that are on loan to the museum should be returned to their owners.

“We should only store what belongs to the museum,” she said. “We shouldn’t take responsibility for storing other people’s property. All items should be logged so when we do get a new site we’ll have a complete inventory list.”

Adams said the future of the museum would be considered carefully.

“As we move forward no one is promised anything,” Adams said. “We will do our best as we continue to find a place for a museum. We might be looking at someone else to run the museum.”

/local_news

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