DAVENPORT — Until a few years ago, members of the Davenport Historical Society were assigned space in Davenport City Hall — but, due to population growth, members had to be asked to leave city hall.
On April 5, members and longtime Commissioner Tom Fellows reminded the city commission that when Davenport Historical Society members were asked to leave city hall, past commissioners expressed support to allow DHS members to take over control of the Peter Rust Arts and Cultural Center on South Allapaha Avenue.
Current city commissioners recently discussed the matter after a DHS presentation.
While all of the city commissioners said this was a good idea in concept, there were several details cited which would have to be worked out before the proposal could become a reality.
Davenport Vice Mayor Brynn Summerlin cited concerns related to revenue from renting the building out, maintenance and what might happen if a DHS volunteer did not come one day.
“As wards of the city money, we need to ask those questions,” Summerlin said.
There are a few issues that would need to be worked out before this change could take place.
For example, Studio C School of Dance and Productions currently has an active rental agreement with the City of Davenport and space inside the historic building is booked solid through August at $150 per day.
DHS members said they were seeking to take over sole use of the building and that they were not asking to move in until after the Tom Fellows Community Center construction is complete. One member suggested Studio C could move into the new community center once it's built. Staff said the solution may not be that simple.
Peter Rust was a longtime Davenport city commissioner who had a role in having the city-owned building placed on the National Registry of Historic Places many years ago. Rust also had a role in the creation of the Davenport Historical Society.
There were letters of support in the agenda packet of the presentation from State Rep. Sam Killebrew and State Rep. Melony Bell and 15 other letters of support from various historical societies and two public schools.
The documentation stated that members would have sole use of the building but the city would be responsible for maintaining it and paying the cost of utilities.
“I think this is the most thorough and well thought out presentation to come before this commission in a long time — if not ever,” Fellows said.
No spending was authorized during the workshop meeting. The commissioners gave consent to city staff to keep working toward a solution good for the Davenport community as a whole and for DHS members.