The Starke County Historical Society has hit another roadblock as they seek to relocate their museum. The Knox City Council this week refused to give the Historical Society permission to lease the city’s railroad right-of-way on U.S. 35, across from the visitor’s center, but Marvin McLaughlin with the Historical Society said this won’t necessarily stop them from establishing the new building.
McLaughlin approached the council Tuesday night and presented renderings of the proposed building, which would be constructed on the Gateway property across from the visitor’s center. McLaughlin said the Historical Society has already been given permission from Gateway to build on the land, but the city council was hesitant to authorize McLaughlin to use the railroad right-of-way.
The council felt the relocation was “premature,” given that the Gateway property is in limbo right now with discussions ongoing for the last several years about the city acquiring it. Until the city acquires the property, or it’s decided that it will remain owned by Gateway, the council made it clear that they will not be endorsing the Historical Society’s relocation to that area.
McLaughlin said they already have permission to build there, but having permission to build on the railroad right-of-way would benefit the city, allowing for an entrance on U.S. 35. On top of that, McLaughlin said it would allow the Historical Society to make the building more presentable.
McLaughlin said the current building that houses the museum is a nice house, but it’s not suited for housing historical items. He said it’s critical that they be able to control the humidity and lighting within the building to prevent any damage to exhibits. Further, the building is too small, preventing them from rotating exhibits.
This would be a win-win situation, according to McLaughlin: the museum would get a nice building and the city would benefit from additional money being spent in the area.
The council once again tabled the matter but encouraged McLaughlin to “light a fire under” the discussions regarding the Gateway property.