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January 24, 2013

Jeffersonville redevelopment commission approves Clark County Museum lease

Downtown arts and history center not dead yet

JEFFERSONVILLE — The Clark County Museum officially has a new home.

Jeffersonville’s Redevelopment Commission approved a lease for the museum to move into two properties at 721 and 725 Michigan Ave. One property is a home and the other is an adjacent pole barn that formerly housed a sign company.

Clark County Museum President Jeanne Burke previously said most of the renovations to the property, which was acquired by the city under the previous administration to complete its plan to develop a canal, would be done by museum volunteers.

There was however, some hesitation by some commission members in granting the length of the lease requested.

The terms of the agreement would allow the museum to lease the property for 50 years — with five renewals every 10 years — at $1 per year.

“I think it’s a great idea, I just have a hard time signing a 50-year lease,” said Commission Member Rob Stevens.

Both Commission Member Kevin LaGrange and Commission President R. Monty Snelling expressed their hesitations about signing a lease that lasts for 50 years.

“If this was just a non-profit or a business...I would agree with [Stevens],” Snelling said. “This is like an investment in our future [because] we are forgetting our past very fast.”

Greg Sekula, director of Indiana Landmarks’ Southern Regional Office, said there was another purpose in having the lease span five decades.

“One of the reasons we’re seeking a 50-year lease is the fact that, because we would not be per se the owner of the property, when we look to grant sources, grant funders are going to know there is a long-term commitment to the entity,” he said. “A 50-year lease, I think would achieve that. A 10-year lease would not.”

The lease was approved 3-1, with Stevens voting against and Commission Member James Lake absent during that portion of the meeting.

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