Leaders Vote on $800K Package for Dunedin Fine Art Center, Historical Museum, Blatchley House
City officials are considering the spending package for a possible wing at Dunedin Fine Art Center, entrance improvements at the Dunedin Historical Museum and a renovation project to turn the Blatchley House into an education center Thursday.
Dunedin leaders will consider an $800,000 package of expansion and restoration projects for three major art and cultural buildings at Thursday's commission meeting.
The package, deemed a "Quality of Life Initiative," would spread the money among the Dunedin Fine Art Center, Dunedin Historical Museum and the Blatchley House at Weaver Park for building expansions and restorations.
Rob DiSpirito, city manager, is proposing the city allot $500,000 to support a state grant application for a planned expansion at Dunedin Fine Art Center.
The Fine Art Center must have a $500,000 commitment from donors as part of a $1 million "local match" before the state will consider the facility for the grant. The June 1 eligibility deadline is looming, city documents say.
Dunedin Fine Art Center members "express that there are potential donors who are first waiting to see if community representatives support the project," DiSpirito wrote in city documents.
He also proposes $200,000 go to the Dunedin Historical Museum for additional display space, front entrance construction and formal accreditation for the museum, and $100,000 to renovate the Blatchley House at Weaver Park so it can be used as a coastal and environmental education center.
Another piece of the package — called the Quality Neighborhoods Program — proposes using a percentage of code enforcement fines toward maintaining and beautifying distressed properties around Dunedin.
The $800,000 funding for the project package is still a question.
According to city documents, a commissioner asked if reserves in the general fund could be used, but City Finance Director Karen Feaney is suggesting debt financing.
The package has been vetted through several volunteer citizen advisory boards including the Board of Finance, the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, the Community Redevelopment Agency Advisory Board and the Arts and Cultural Advisory Committee, according to DiSpirito.
DiSpirito first pitched the package during a September workshop, just before the 2012 city elections.
Some believed the discussion was politically motivated because many members of the Dunedin Fine Art Center and Dunedin Historical Museum backed Heather Gracy, who was running against David Carson at the time.
Gracy defeated Carson, winning the incumbent's seat in November.
The public can attend Thursday's meeting at Dunedin City Hall or watch the meeting live beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Dunedin TV on Channel 615 for Bright House customers or Channel 15 for Knology and Verizon customers.
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