CITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES FUTURE OF ART MUSEUM-Andrew Stelzer

03/17/05

The looming deadline for financing the new Tampa Museum of Art was discussed at this morning’s city council meeting, along with an expected increase in using code violations to foreclose on homes throughout the city. WMNF’s Andrew Stelzer was at city hall and filed this report.

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Problems raising enough money to pay for the proposed 76 million dollar expanded museum of art have repeatedly delayed the finalization of plans to actually build the museum. With an April 11th deadline looming, after which the price of construction could go up substantially, the council heard a progress report from Bonnie Wise, the city of Tampa’s finance director

ACT "There is till a 3.2 million dollar gap, and the agenda deadline is the 24th so you have all the documents you need...this is a timetable that has been reiterated in order to make the march 31st deadline, the deadline is 24th..We need all documents before then, on the 31st is when it would go to you, and the public hearing is scheduled for the 31st, and then ..at this time there are many documents"

Many council members, including Shawn Harrison, expressed concerns that with only a little more than a week between the date when the council would hear a final report and the deadline to approving the plans, there wont be time for looming questions to be answered.

ACT-Harrison "If for some reason the 31st arrives and they have met al the requirement the mayor has put forth but the council has reservations how will we be able to get those addressed in time? Doesn’t seem to be time to raise concerns...right there would be one council meeting, we would have to sign that reward...

Bonnie Wise was asked if the 3.2 million in financing still yet to be found is the only problem remaining regarding the art museums plans.

ACT--wise "At this time we so not have the documents we need and the financing is not complete..There are many issue still outstanding that s one of the issues and the board is working on that particular one, in my memo, 9 items need to be address, there are dramatic needs, I don’t have debt serves, im hoping to receive that anytime now, im concerned about the material debt service, im concerned about guarantors, and numbers, there re a number ...and we are still operating.."

Councilwoman Mary Alvarez suggested holding a special night meeting in early April, so that the council has time to help meet the deadlines. Councilwomen Rose Ferlita said she wants to hear from mayor Pam Iorio; in the past the mayor has said she thinks the size and cost of the museum of project is too big.

ACT-ferlita "It would greatly be appreciated if the mayor came in to let us know, I sure would like the mayor to say if she supports it or not, that’s just a thought...."

Councilman Shawn Harrison said he is concerned about the 2 million dollars in operating expenses that the city will have to contribute to the museum every year.

ACT-Harrison "A 2 million dollar operating subsidy is a lot of money, and they are the highest attraction I we subsidize everyone on the bond funds....2 million out of the budget..I want them to have in mind a plan b if this issue is something of concern to my colleagues if I'm the only one that’s concerned it

But Commissioner Alvarez said she is confident that a bigger art museum can pay for itself.

ACT-Alvarez "I know where Mr. Harrison is coming from but that doesn’t give me heartburn but we have to maintain it, it’s a city asset if you don’t 2 million..."

Yesterday, WMNF spoke to Mayor Iorio about the possibility that city council approval may stand in the way of the project, and a unusual move by Councilwoman rose Ferlita last week, who made a public records request to get museum related documents from the mayors office.

ACT-Iorio "If we get the financing n the 24th well set down with the council members..The main thing it can they get the mortgage but if they do the majority of the council understands that that this is a good project, can this group get their financing..."

ACT--Iorio "Its a very odd request for them to do that, that’s how well the city council members do with me..."

During last week meeting, when councilwoman ferlita made the public records request, Councilman John Dingfelder questioned that move and he and Ferlita got into an argument; this week, during a hearing about a citizen's request for a zoning change, Ferlita was asking the city attorney a question when she and DIngfelder clashed once again.

ACT "screaming

Again, a hearing for public comment on the proposed expansion of the Tampa art museum will be held at city hall on Thursday, March 31st, at 1pm

For WMNF news, I’m Andrew Stelzer

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