Waynesboro says it will commit to museum project: But, beware

waynesboroWaynesboro City Council appears to be on board with $1 million in incentives to the Virginia Museum of Natural History.

Beware, museum folks. This city doesn’t have the best track record on following through on these kinds of promises.

The city council approved a resolution related to the incentives at its meeting Monday night. The measure calls for a package including direct financial contributions, in-kind support and real property and is contingent on the additional financial support from the state for the construction of a new building in Downtown Waynesboro.

Uh, huh.

Two words for you there: Wayne Theatre.

Another word for you: renege.

The state included $250,000 in the fiscal-year 2019 budget for engineering and architectural work for the project, which has been in the works since 2011.

“We are delighted to be working with the Virginia Museum of Natural History on their project to build a Waynesboro Campus,” Waynesboro Mayor Terry Short said in a news release. “Since the General Assembly appropriated funds for architectural and engineering design, the project is now considered ready for bid. We are fortunate to have a strong General Assembly delegation, and we hope they will be successful in the 2020 legislative session in securing final funding so that the project can move forward.”

The project is envisioned going up on the current Constitution Park parking lot at the northeast corner of West Main Street and Arch Avenue.

Plans for the building would have 14,000 square feet of exhibit space with additional space for youth education activities, classrooms and research-grade laboratories.

A feasibility study suggests the museum would draw up to 85,000 visitors a year downtown with an annual economic impact at $2 million-plus.

The budget for the project, including construction and equipping the facility, is $21 million, or more than 2.5 times the total budget for the Wayne Theatre, which opened in 2016 after a 15-year rehab effort.

The city has not followed through on a performance agreement made with the Wayne Theatre Alliance in 2008.

Story by Chris Graham


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