Marco Island Historical Museum's lack of exhibits is soon to become history.
The City of Marco Island agreed on Tuesday night to give the Marco Island Historical Society $100,000 to purchase permanent exhibits.
The museum opened its doors in February with the inside of the museum nearly empty.
Another $500,000, primarily in Collier County and city money, is anticipated to be paid to the historical society by the end of October, said Historical Society President Craig Woodward.
“It's a huge amount of money in this economy. It's going to accomplish a great deal,” Woodward said.
The Historical Society, with the help of approximately 600 donors, paid to build the $4.5 million museum complex on Heathwood Drive.
Initially, permanent exhibits were estimated to cost about $1.5 million and the county was to purchase them. The county is paying to staff and operate the museum.
It would have taken years to contribute all the exhibit money, particularly with an estimated $27 million county budget shortfall, officials had said.
City Council, as an incentive to the county, had offered to match up to $350,000 with Collier County in late 2009, but later lowered that match to $250,000.
The museum at that time had already secured approval for a $100,000 grant from the Tourist Development Council. That money comes from bed taxes, or taxes paid for tourist accommodations in the county.
Following the city proposal, the county commission approved in January an allocation of $200,000 to come from reserves.
Cedar Hames, owner of Paradise Advertising, which works with the county, offered a $50,000 donation to purchase exhibits.
City Council members questioned whether the total of $350,000 was all county money, so they then lowered their commitment to $250,000.
The city's contribution comes from Lee County Electric Cooperative's payment to the city to purchase an easement to put up power lines on the island.
City Council voted 6-1, with Councilman Chuck Kiester dissenting, to approve Woodward's request on Tuesday for $100,000 to be paid immediately.
“The county is not playing fair with us,” Kiester said.
The city is giving their money to the historical society directly, while the county is retaining their contributions to spend as they desire, he said.
The $100,000 needs to be spent by Sept. 24 to get the TDC reimbursement grant, said Patricia Bliss, city finance director.
It needs to be spent by Sept. 24 to get the TDC reimbursement grant, said Patricia Bliss, city finance director.
“We're cutting it close,” Woodward said.
The museum, while waiting for its first collection of the money pledged, has been relying on temporary traveling exhibits, Woodward said.
That will likely remain the case for several months, he said. “It's not something where you just buy exhibits off a shelf.”
The first permanent exhibit is to be the Calusa interactive exhibit, Woodward said. It is to be a life-size Indian village diorama.
“It will be quite stunning,” Woodward said.
Instead it will likely be summer or fall of 2011, Woodward estimated.
The Collier County Commission is to consider approval of two agreements with the historical society at a meeting scheduled Sept. 14. The agreements include a lease to the historical society to use Rose Auditorium, which was built thanks to a donation by the late Bill Rose.
The city will have a right to use Rose Auditorium at no cost, per recently negotiated agreements.
Also, the historical society will have a first right to purchase the museum property at the assessed value if the county considers selling it in the future, per the resolution yet to be considered by the county commission.