City extends gallery, museum lease 15 years

By Reggie Ellis

Exeter's art gallery and museum both took major strides towards creating a cultural hub to the entrance of downtown when the Exeter City Council approved two items at its Sept. 28 meeting.

The council adopted a resolution extending the lease of the gallery and museum to the Exeter Art Gallery and Museum Association for another 15 years. Jim Gordon, representing the association, said the extension is contingent on whether or not the association is approved for a $410,000 grant from the California Cultural and Historical Endowment (CCHE). CCHE is a division of the California State Library created to administer Proposition 40 funds dedicated to preserving historic and cultural resources. Passed by 56.9 percent of California voters in 2002, Prop. 40 is titled the "California Clean Water, Clean Air, Safe Neighborhood Parks, and Coastal Protection Act."

Under Article 1, section C of the law it states: "California’s historical legacy also requires active protection, restoration, and interpretation to preserve and pass on an understanding and appreciation of the diverse cultural influences and extraordinary human achievements that have contributed to the unique development of California."

According to the CCHE's website, approximately $128 million will be available to government entities and non-profit organizations through a competitive grant application process. The deadline date was Oct. 1. Grants require matching funds.

Gordon said the money will be used to restore the exterior of the museum building to its original state, long windows stretching vertically up the two-story building. The 50-foot-by-80-foot concrete and steel building was originally constructed as a Mt. Whitney Power Company sub-station in 1913. Mt. Whitney Power operated the sub-station until 1954.

The money will also be used to renovate the inside of the building for use as a museum to "preserve the agricultural heritage of our community," Gordon said. Both buildings are owned by the City of Exeter and are operated by the Art Gallery and Museum Association through a Memorandum of Understanding. The city pays utilities for the two buildings as part of the MOU. Both buildings served as municipal facilities at one time. The gallery is the former Exeter-Farmersville Municipal Courthouse and the museum is the former location of the Parks and Recreation and Police departments.

The council approved a $12,330 quote from All Star Roofing in Visalia to re-roof the Courthouse Gallery of the Arts building at 125 S. B St. The city had budgeted $7,000 to re-roof both the gallery and the Exeter Historical Museum next to it, located at 115 S. B St., which would have cost another $5,770.

Public Works Director Felix Ortiz recommended the council approve the quote for the gallery but not the museum. The difference of $5,330, Ortiz said, will be made up by taking money from the Equipment Replacement Fund, which includes $10,872 generated by the city auction held a few months ago.

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