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YMC board says no to new county museum site

October 3, 2008
Robert Wolfington III

After years of discussion about moving, the Yellow Medicine County Museum won't be changing it's address any time soon.

During its last meeting in September, the Yellow Medicine County Board voted against purchasing land near the Granite Falls airport and instead, decided to maintain the current site into the forceable future.

Commissioner Jane Remiger was the only board member to vote in favor of purchasing the land along County Road 29 and Minnesota Highway 23 from David Velde. Remiger is also a member of the museum board.

Remiger said the commissioners expressed concern over possible vandalism at the site and the increasing cost of installing utilities at a rural location.

"(The board addressed issues) including security and ongoing utility costs," said Remiger. "(The rest of the commissioners) felt it would be out in the middle of no where and it would be easily vandalized."

The board's final decision about the proposed move was to keep it at its current location along the Minnesota River at the southern edge of Granite Falls along Minnesota Highway 23.

Because of the higher costs, Commissioner Ron Antony made a motion to look exclusively in municipalities in the county.

"The motion was it must stay in a municipality," said Remiger.

In 1997 the museum was caught in the flood that damaged much of the Granite Falls area.

For more than two years the county has been looking at the possibility of moving the museum to another location.

Jan Peterson, president of the Yellow Medicine County Historical Society, said the commissioners' decision to keep the museum at its present location is disappointing.

"We certainly were hoping for a definite move," said Peterson. "We have taken a whole lot of time to find an appropriate place. We thought we found one but the commissioners aren't going for it.

"Where (the county commissioners) are standing they want to see if there is flood mitigation money to do something for us," said Peterson. "It seems they are opposed of doing any moves right now and we will simply have an evacuation plan."

Peterson said the historical society has prepared for the possibility the county would not move forward with the move.

She said options like a evacuation plan have been discussed and are currently being developed.

At a meeting earlier this summer, commissioner Dick Wambeke voted along with Remiger to commit to purchase property owned by David Velde near the Granite Falls airport.

That motion failed in a 3-2 vote with commissioners Gary Johnson, Louis Sherlin and Antony voting against it.

Wambeke said he wanted to explore the option further before making his final decision in September.

"Initially when we were talking about it, we were looking at a commitment to purchase the land so we could move forward and write a grant," said Wambeke. "I wanted to at least take that step forward."

Wambeke said he has thought about moving the museum to a rural setting and he said the utilities cost and risk of vandalism weighed on him.

"I have thought about that Velde property a lot since I voted with Jane but I think we would be better off in the community," said Wambeke.

While Wambeke voted against the purchase of the Velde property, he did not support keeping the museum at its current location.

Wambeke said there aren't a lot of good options that meet criteria set by the museum board including visibility, high traffic and space for outdoor events.

"These board work hard on these museums, they're the ones that keep things going," said Wambeke. "... Peterson and Terri Dinesen have really worked hard to resurrect this museum following the 1997 flood."

Remiger said the museum board is looking at developing a emergency plan for the existing building to handle artifacts in the case of a high water event.

"We will be working on revising the evacuation plan and constantly looking at sites as they come up," said Remiger.



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