The Batesville Board of Works tabled a decision Sept. 10 to allow the city to accept ownership of a museum building from the Batesville Area Historical Society.
BAHS member Tim Dietz reported that after purchasing and renovating a house at 15 W. George St. in 2008-09, the museum opened, staffed on a part-time basis by BAHS volunteers.
To maintain the facility, “we have a number of (annual) fundraisers, including a garden tour, Christmas luncheon, rummage sale” and items for sale, such as books and ornaments, at the museum.
Dietz said, “We are financially in good shape.” There is no mortgage and BAHS has $26,000 in cash.
An endowment operating fund of just over $20,000 provides regular operating funds.
The land and building is valued at $250,000, he said.
Dietz asked, “Why do we want to donate this to the city? We think the artifacts belong to ... Batesville. Our current active members are aging. We are concerned about how the society will continue in the future.”
According to the mayor, “It’s a great addition to the community.” He and fellow member Ham Struewing supported the idea. Struewing added, “You would be surprised at the value” of the historical artifacts.
BBW member Gene Lambert said, “I can’t disagree with anything Tim has said. It’s well run, well organized and very successful. The concern that I have is with the city taking it over, how do we follow your footsteps? … Can it be as successful under the city umbrella?... With volunteer workers, with donations and all the things that have made it successful, would citizens look at it the same way, knowing the city is running it?”
Dietz said the city wouldn’t have to operate it as members are still willing to. He pointed out if the society ever folds, building ownership would already be established.
Attendee Mike Vonderheide observed most cities don’t own museum facilities. He recommended talking to the library board about ownership. “That’s actually a taxing unit.” Funds could be raised for upkeep if needed, according to him.
Fledderman said, “I think it’s eventually going to end up with the city. I think this is a proactive approach to guarantee things are going to be preserved.”
Lambert wondered how building ownership would impact Batesville’s budget. Initially, the mayor thought the city would have to pay for insurance only.
- Debbie Blank can be contacted at 812-934-4343, Ext. 113; or debbie.blank@ batesvilleheraldtribune.com.