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Museum plans move forward

After years of discussion and planning, it appears the Town of Pulaski is finally going to get a transportation museum and Dr. Milton Brockmeyer’s train set will get a new home.
Faced with the prospect of losing about $600,000 in state funding for the museum if action weren’t taken soon, the Pulaski Town Council unanimously voted last night to move forward with construction of a freestanding building to house the museum.
The museum will be built on a parcel of land adjacent to Maple Shade Shopping Center. The parcel was retained for the museum when the shopping center was sold to Pulaski County.
The town recently received a letter from Virginia Department of Transportation stating that about $600,000 in grant money set aside for the museum would be reassigned to another state project unless the town could show an intent to move forward with the project.
The town was given 45 days (essentially until the end of September) to respond.
Initial plans called for a building to house both the transportation museum and Fine Arts Center for the New River Valley. However, the two organizations have since moved in separate directions.
Art Center Executive Director Judy Ison said the fine arts center plans to move into the Rutherford Building at the corner of Fifth Street N.E. and Washington Avenue. However, she said plans have not proceeded to the extent that the museum couldn’t be incorporated into that plan.
Ison pointed out that it was the fine arts center that spent hours writing grants to obtain the VDOT funding.
When the town council voted to move forward with constructing a new building for the museum, Ison asked how the town intends to compensate the fine arts center for the time it put into writing the grants.
Mayor Jeff Worrell said he doesn’t know how the center could be “fairly compensated.”
Town Councilman Joel Burchett suggested a grant writer might be able to help the center with writing its future grants as a method of compensation.
Worrell noted that county officials recently approached him to find out how they could help with the museum situation. He said maybe the county’s help could be put toward assistance to the fine arts center. He noted that all organizations need to succeed for the town to succeed.
In making his motion to instruct the town staff to move forward with a freestanding building, Burchett suggested the town “get on that right quick.” Councilman Dave Clark seconded the motion.
Tye Kirkner, who has offered to donate his time and building knowledge to the museum project, said the reason he has agreed to donate his time is because “I’ve never seen anything I’ve wanted to save as badly as I’ve wanted to save” Brockmeyer’s train set.
The 20-foot by 80-foot model train set-up includes a replica of downtown Pulaski around 1955. He said the set-up takes up most of the Brockmeyer’s basement.
Kirkner said he recently took a man from Virginia Tech to see the train set and the man was so impressed “I liked to have never gotten him out of there.”
Worrell asked Kirkner if there is any way to get the setup out of Brockmeyer’s basement.
Kirkner said he has so many people who have expressed interest in helping to move it that, once the museum building is constructed, moving the train will be “just a detail.”
He said a six-foot by six-foot hole will be cut into the basement wall to remove the train set. Then, French doors will be installed and some landscaping will be required. The set is constructed on four-foot by eight-foot pieces of plywood, he added.
Kirkner indicated the cost of moving the train is included in the estimates for construction of the museum — which he put at about $640,000 for a 10,000 square foot building and $567,000 for an 8,000 square foot building. He pointed out that he estimated high for the costs of different aspects of the project to be safe.
The annual operations budget is estimated to be just over $32,000.
Several town councilmen expressed a desire for the museum and fine arts center to share the Rutherford building. However, in the end, they decided there wasn’t sufficient time to save the grant money if that avenue were taken.
Town Manager John Hawley said it is his understanding the state wants “very detailed plans,” for construction of the building in order to continue the funding.
In addition to the train set, the museum would house two older model fire trucks, an old hearse and other transportation-related objects.
Councilman Morgan Welker said he typically supports using existing buildings over building new ones. However, he said the new building seems to be the best course of action given the grant money deadline.
“It’s important to save that train set and the vehicles, so we need to do something. If we don’t, 20 to 30 years down the road we’ll be kicking ourselves.”
Hawley said there should be sufficient money to move forward with the new building if construction bids come in as estimated. According to Hawley, the town has about $600,000.
You may contact Melinda Williams at melinda@southwesttimes.com

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Museum plans move forward

After years of discussion and planning, it appears the Town of Pulaski is finally going to get a transportation museum and Dr. Milton Brockmeyer’s train set will get a new home.
Faced with the prospect of losing about $600,000 in state funding for the museum if action weren’t taken soon, the Pulaski Town Council unanimously voted last night to move forward with construction of a freestanding building to house the museum.
The museum will be built on a parcel of land adjacent to Maple Shade Shopping Center. The parcel was retained for the museum when the shopping center was sold to Pulaski County.
The town recently received a letter from Virginia Department of Transportation stating that about $600,000 in grant money set aside for the museum would be reassigned to another state project unless the town could show an intent to move forward with the project.
The town was given 45 days (essentially until the end of September) to respond.
Initial plans called for a building to house both the transportation museum and Fine Arts Center for the New River Valley. However, the two organizations have since moved in separate directions.
Art Center Executive Director Judy Ison said the fine arts center plans to move into the Rutherford Building at the corner of Fifth Street N.E. and Washington Avenue. However, she said plans have not proceeded to the extent that the museum couldn’t be incorporated into that plan.
Ison pointed out that it was the fine arts center that spent hours writing grants to obtain the VDOT funding.
When the town council voted to move forward with constructing a new building for the museum, Ison asked how the town intends to compensate the fine arts center for the time it put into writing the grants.
Mayor Jeff Worrell said he doesn’t know how the center could be “fairly compensated.”
Town Councilman Joel Burchett suggested a grant writer might be able to help the center with writing its future grants as a method of compensation.
Worrell noted that county officials recently approached him to find out how they could help with the museum situation. He said maybe the county’s help could be put toward assistance to the fine arts center. He noted that all organizations need to succeed for the town to succeed.
In making his motion to instruct the town staff to move forward with a freestanding building, Burchett suggested the town “get on that right quick.” Councilman Dave Clark seconded the motion.
Tye Kirkner, who has offered to donate his time and building knowledge to the museum project, said the reason he has agreed to donate his time is because “I’ve never seen anything I’ve wanted to save as badly as I’ve wanted to save” Brockmeyer’s train set.
The 20-foot by 80-foot model train set-up includes a replica of downtown Pulaski around 1955. He said the set-up takes up most of the Brockmeyer’s basement.
Kirkner said he recently took a man from Virginia Tech to see the train set and the man was so impressed “I liked to have never gotten him out of there.”
Worrell asked Kirkner if there is any way to get the setup out of Brockmeyer’s basement.
Kirkner said he has so many people who have expressed interest in helping to move it that, once the museum building is constructed, moving the train will be “just a detail.”
He said a six-foot by six-foot hole will be cut into the basement wall to remove the train set. Then, French doors will be installed and some landscaping will be required. The set is constructed on four-foot by eight-foot pieces of plywood, he added.
Kirkner indicated the cost of moving the train is included in the estimates for construction of the museum — which he put at about $640,000 for a 10,000 square foot building and $567,000 for an 8,000 square foot building. He pointed out that he estimated high for the costs of different aspects of the project to be safe.
The annual operations budget is estimated to be just over $32,000.
Several town councilmen expressed a desire for the museum and fine arts center to share the Rutherford building. However, in the end, they decided there wasn’t sufficient time to save the grant money if that avenue were taken.
Town Manager John Hawley said it is his understanding the state wants “very detailed plans,” for construction of the building in order to continue the funding.
In addition to the train set, the museum would house two older model fire trucks, an old hearse and other transportation-related objects.
Councilman Morgan Welker said he typically supports using existing buildings over building new ones. However, he said the new building seems to be the best course of action given the grant money deadline.
“It’s important to save that train set and the vehicles, so we need to do something. If we don’t, 20 to 30 years down the road we’ll be kicking ourselves.”
Hawley said there should be sufficient money to move forward with the new building if construction bids come in as estimated. According to Hawley, the town has about $600,000.
You may contact Melinda Williams at melinda@southwesttimes.com

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