Marco Island Historical Museum nabs city cash for exhibits

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.

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Comments » 9

OldMarcoMan writes:

Is this the highest and best use of our Tax money?
Who got to who to get this passed???

happy6 writes:

another joke by the inept gov't of maroo.

blogsmog writes:

How about the exhibit 'The Marco taxpayer' a broken back replica of a person with all the blood let out of his veins his eyes bulging from his head and a tax bill stuck to his forehead.

RayPray writes:

"The City of Marco Island agreed...to give the Marco Island Historical Society $100,000 to purchase permanent exhibits."

Our library is a truly popular destination.

This museum was some fatuous elitist project that resulted in destroying the very nice and potentially useful open space next to the library with its gazebo and extra parking.

The library is generally packed, especially during season.

On the other hand, have you ever run into anyone expressing any genuine interest in visiting this so-called museum?

Marco Island is a pleasant tourist and retirement destination.

Nobody moved here to commune with Calusa Indians or primitive rednecks who lived here.

Why are there no exhibits?

Maybe, the reason is that there really is little of historical interest to say about this place.

The museum building is attractive, but it is barely alive and it destroyed parking for the library.

The only plus for this expen$ive boondoggle is that is affords pedestrians in the area with an extra bathroom option.

deltarome writes:

KLAB, what a great idea! We should donate the building to the Indians and then have them put in a few slot machines and we can then split profits with city and tribe. Maybe convert the proposed Marriott exhibit hall into a larger casino and make it a cash cow to keep council members happy so they can write checks out using someone elses money besides taxpayers........

RayPray writes:

The building is attractive.

A casino to support the library would be great idea!

"Caloo$$a Ca $$hin"?

At least would get more than 2 people a week to show up.

JohninMarco writes:

Remember when this was planned and our city council stated that No Tax Payer money was going to be used.

RayPray writes:

The Dilemma of Democracy?

Everyone who stands for City Council spouts the identical platform; namely, they will cut back waste and guard our tax dollars like their own money.

Then no sooner do they get in than they become infected by a kind of dengue fever of delirium to squander our $$$s on worthless boondoggles like STRP, Jack$on Lab$, and this fatuous museum -- promoted by a handful of establishment elitists -- which has no pertinent exhibits, no rationale to exist, and to which in the end nobody who will ever choose to visit.

captnjimbo writes:

My family made a small pledge to the museum and we would make another small pledge...as would many of the people who love this island...so the answer here is more fundraising not diversion of taxes. Something not right when fire hydrants are put on hold and money diverted to what was ment to be privately funded...at least that was my preception.

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