Originally, the existing museum building was to be physically picked up and moved to a nearby parcel of land in order to accommodate the realignment of Water Street, but Kezer said state land procurement laws made it impossible for the city and the Carriage Museum to swap land without first putting the city’s land up for bid.
“There is no mechanism that can guarantee that the Carriage Museum gets that land,” Kezer said. “We would have to do a procurement process to bid it out, and whoever comes along with the best price … would get the property.”
Instead, the building will be raised to protect it from flooding, and Water Street will have to be realigned differently. The planned retail parcels could still be built on the land where the Carriage Museum was supposed to go, and Kezer said that option would be looked into.
By leaving the museum where it is and raising it up, the city will save $300,000 compared to what it would have cost to move it, Kezer said.
Once completed, the new Heritage Park will consist of a canoe and kayak launch, a public assembly area, historic panels, pathways and sitting areas. The land is being donated by Dan Healey and the Water Street Realty Trust, and once the City Council accepts the land, it will be officially dedicated as a public park.
The park is a major component to the overall Lower Millyard effort, which will also include an expansion to the Water Street parking deck, the realignment of Water Street, the construction of new retail properties, an addition to Healey’s Carriage Mills property and a significant brownfield cleanup effort.
In order to continue moving forward with the project, Kezer is establishing an advisory-oriented ad hoc committee known as the Lower Millyard Revitalization Task Force, which will be comprised of nine members, including two selected by the City Council, two selected by the Chamber of Commerce and five selected by the mayor.
The City Council will meet next Tuesday, March 12, at 7 p.m.