PELL CITY — The Heart of Pell City is asking the Pell City Council to allow the organization to use the former library building as a long-term home for a city museum.
Carol Pappas, with the organization’s Museum Committee, addressed the council during its regular work session Monday about plans to use the former library building for a museum.
Last year, Pappas asked the council for use of the building as a temporary home for the museum, with the hope to apply for it to be the home of the Making Alabama Bicentennial Exhibit, which toured the state last year.
The council agreed to the request for a temporary home in November 2019, so the application could go through, saying it would also explore bringing the bathrooms in the building into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Pappas said the Museum Committee has been awarded ownership of the bicentennial exhibit and asked the council to begin work on the bathrooms and consider a user agreement for a more long-term use of the building. She also asked the council to consider creating a municipal museum and landmark board to oversee the museum.
Originally, the use of the building was meant to be for only two years or so while the Heart of Pell City used funds raised for renovations at the old Avondale Office Building.
Pappas said Monday the bicentennial exhibit and the “The Way We Worked” exhibit created for the Smithsonian traveling exhibit the city hosted in 2014 take up 2,500 square feet of space when put together.
“The Avondale Building is not large enough to house that,” she said.
Council member Jud Alverson asked Pappas if Heart of Pell City would handle renovations to the building, to which she replied it could, citing $10,000 in donations the organization already has and adding it plans to soon start a proper fundraising campaign.
Pappas said she believed the museum could be in operation six months after the bathrooms are completed.
City Manager Brian Muenger told the council his expectation would be that any agreement would have the municipality retain ownership of the building but have a board appointed by the council oversee its operations. He also said it would need to have language that would incentivise continuous fundraising.
The council ultimately instructed Muenger to proceed on the ADA upgrades and to negotiate a long-term lease and user agreement. Muenger said the council will require a reasonable cost sharing agreement and to have structures set up at the start on how the museum will pay for expenses and operating costs.
“I think it would be a fair statement to say there’s generally support for the idea, but it’s not an open checkbook,” Muenger said.
Mayor Bill Pruitt said he thinks everyone agrees the museum is a good idea and appreciates the work it’s taken to get it to this point.
“At the same time,” Pruitt said, “we have to be fiscally responsible with everything we do.”
Taylor Mitchell, Daily Home reporter covering Pell City.