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Museum proponents widen funding search

Plans to convert the old Tarpon Springs library into a historical museum are still alive, despite the state's denial of a funding request.

By KATHERINE GAZELLA

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 3, 2000


TARPON SPRINGS -- After finding out the state budget did not include funding for a proposed heritage museum in Craig Park, city officials are looking for other ways to pay for the project.

The city had asked the state for $667,000 to help convert the old city library into a museum. But the money was not in the budget passed by the Legislature, according to the office of state Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Palm Harbor.

The city will request state funding again next year, said Kathy Monahan, community affairs administrator for the city. The project has an estimated cost of $2-million. In the meantime, she said, she will try to obtain money through grants and other sources.

Monahan said she was disappointed the funding wasn't part of the budget but understood that other projects, including renovation of the 113-year-old Anclote Key lighthouse, were greater priorities. She also said some projects that were funded this year were vetoed or didn't make it into the budget last year.

"A lot of things that didn't get funded last year, it was their turn," she said.

City officials envision a museum with historical and ecological themes. It would have photographs and panels documenting the city's history, back to prehistoric times, said Phyllis Kolianos, manager of the city's Historical Society.

The museum would incorporate various aspects of the city's history, including the life of American Indians on both sides of the Anclote River and the immigration of Greek families in the early 1900s, she said.

The manatees that swim into nearby Spring Bayou could provide a focal point for ecological exhibits at the museum, she said.

Kolianos said she isn't discouraged that the Legislature did not pass the funding this year. The most important thing is that the city has committed to turning the old library into a museum, she said.

"It's just a matter of ways and means now," she said.

Currently, the library building is used as an occasional meeting place for civic groups in the city. Tampa's Museum of Science and Industry has used the former library to hold classes and day camps for children.

-- Katherine Gazella can be reached at (727) 445-4182 or by e-mail at gazella@sptimes.com.

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