281 S. Second Street

NDEPENDENCE — The Independence Heritage Museum may be moving closer to downtown.

After an executive session at the end of the July 23 meeting, the city council voted for the city manager to look for properties to move the existing museum.

Councilor Jennifer Ranstrom-Smith voted against it.

During citizen comments at the beginning of the meeting, Jasper Smith, Heritage Museum Advisory Board member, thanked the city for their support of the museum.

“At the recent museum advisory board, we made a recommendation that is consistent with the strategic plan,” Smith said. “We ask that the city explore the feasibility of acquiring the building for sale at 281 S. Second St.”

Accessibility for visitors, volunteers and staff is one of the main issues Smith cited.

“It is of the utmost importance that the museum be accessible and inclusive for everyone,” he said. “That is not the case today for children and adults who use wheelchairs or have other mobility challenges, or for children in strollers. The Second Street site would be accessible for all, and all coming through the front door together.”

The 6,575-square-foot building, which is currently for sale, is listed for $449,000.

Smith said the location will “provide an anchor in downtown, which will attract customers without competing with other businesses.”

The large size of the building makes it difficult to sustain as a retail business, but would be good for the museum, he said.

“The location has advantages, like a garage door for moving larger exhibit items in and out, large flexible exhibit space (and) storage,” Smith said.

City Councilor Marilyn Morton is the council liaison for the Heritage Museum Advisory Board.

“Normally I wouldn’t be reporting on the museum, but I wanted to echo the sentiments of our first speaker as far as this being a perfect place for a museum on Second and C streets,” Morton said. “It is a site that is very rich in history.”

Previously, there was  hotel at that location, which burned down, Morton said.  It also was near the original city hall and the original jail, she said.

She said after touring the building, she would “love” to see the museum there.

“It makes a it a walkable feature in downtown Independence and unfortunately, our museum where it is currently located, is not as friendly for walking,” she said.

After the council approved looking for a new location, Councilor Kathy Martin-Willis moved “that staff make every effort to obtain grants and donations to support the relocation of the museum.”That motion was unanimously approved.

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