Today to a room filled with supporters of the proposal to bring the Model T museum to the Depot District, several people spoke for 45 minutes in favor of the resolution. Concerned business owners, enthusiastic community members, historians and others stepped up to be counted in what may be an historic moment for Richmond/Wayne County.
In addition to bringing the museum, added parking was a part of the resolution to be passed at this meeting. The first speaker, following Mayor Sally Hutton, was the president of the Model T association, Jay Klehfoth. He reported that the Board of Directors of the Model T Association would like to see the museum stay in this area. He also read excerpts from some enthusiastic emails, numbering about 150, in support of the museum moving to the Depot District.
Some of the emails came from folks as far away as France and Australia who had been to Richmond in 2008 for the Model T event. One supporter from France who visited here in 2008, wrote “it is an excellent idea and should be welcomed by everyone concerned.” Another email message stated that “some of us will consider retiring there,” and went on to say they would volunteer at the museum once they move to the area and were interested in working with outreach for youth.
Ben Young, who moved to the area in 1990, said that bringing the Model T’s here “brought out the best in Richmond” and spoke of the efforts of the 830 volunteers who helped with the 2008 Model T event that brought hundreds of the cars to our area and revenue–later quoted in the meeting–of 7-12 million dollars in just one week.
Many spoke of the economic impact that bringing the museum would have on the community by pulling in tourists as well as creating jobs while supporting the many businesses that are in the Depot District.
Roger Richert spoke of what the Depot District had to offer and its ever growing expansion. He listed six restaurants already established with three more opening soon. Also at least two new businesses will be opening in the near future. And he added with the cruise-in at the Depot sponsored by Rick Parker, the Model T would fit nicely with what is already offered. He shared that events like Oktoberfest in September and the Avenue of Flags will be a draw to the area as well.
Matt Stegall commented that the “impact would have a good long term affect on the Starr District development,” adding that what we have to draw people to our community “is our rich history.” And Steve Holthouse, with Lingle Real Estate, added from his perspective of touring people around the area that people are really impressed with the arts we have in this town as well as places like the Depot District. His words were they are “blown away.”
After the open discussion was over, Larry Parker brought forward a few concerns from the council members. Mainly there was concern over this happening so quickly. Another concern was that by taking five properties from taxable to non taxable status there could be an impact to the city financially. However the latter concern was addressed by making an agreement to pay some kind of rent by the museum to help cover the money lost through taxes.
The resolution was to allow the city to enter into a purchase agreement. A motion was made to accept the resolution and passed, followed by applause from the crowd. There will be new resolutions in the future, but for now we witnessed a very exciting hour of the community coming together in support of what may be a very big step in bringing economic growth and industry to Richmond and Wayne County.
Karole Passmore is a freelance writer who enjoys writing articles and short stories, interviewing local people, and researching non-fiction subject matter– preferably historical. Graduate of RHS, Ivy Tech Richmond, and Earlham College– with a major in History, Karole has spent most of her life in Wayne County and enjoys the quaint atmosphere of a small town.
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