“If we were already on a cliff, the pandemic is what pushed us over the edge,” Scherer said.
The nonprofit’s course toward the edge of that cliff started sometime last year.
In June 2019, the city received complaints about noise, membership denials and diminished operation hours at the museum, as well as complaints about interior and exterior maintenance, including broken sprinklers, a broken sink, and dead grass and plants.
In August 2019, the city issued an eviction notice threat if 12 rehab requirements weren’t completed within 10 days. Around 200 community members then came together to help clean the museum, repair its fence, fix the sink, replace the sprinkler system and level dirt around the grounds.
As a result, eviction was narrowly avoided.
“The Hanford Carnegie Museum felt public awareness and renewed support was gained from the eviction threat in 2019,” the board said. “Though museum funds were depleting to pay for materials for this extraordinary rehab of the building, the board was confident funds could be built back in 2020.”
However, the board said it simply could not afford to pay the annual insurance bill.
The board asked the city council for financial help, but City Manager Mario Cifuentez said the council ultimately made the difficult decision to not string the issue along any further and begin the eviction process. He said the parting between both parties was amicable.
“We didn’t want to see the museum close,” Cifuentez said. “We value that collection as much as the citizens do.”