Local attorney Michael Dayian said he intends to withdraw a petition that would allow Greater Amsterdam School District voters to decide the fate of the Walter Elwood Museum.
Dayian said he will submit a different petition instead.
The petition was submitted two weeks ago, in light of the Board of Education’s decision in August to close 300 Guy Park Ave., which has housed the museum for over 40 years.
The petition, signed by 25 residents, would allow the voters to decide whether the district should provide a building for the museum and raise $25,000 through a separate tax levy for the museum’s operations. However, the museum would have to become a public entity, a complicated process requiring the museum to change its charter through the state Department of Education.
The new petition would allow the museum to continue as an association, while allowing the district to raise $25,000 for the museum via a separate tax levy, but would not require the district to provide the building.
Dayian said the building is the major change in the new petition, but the important thing is allowing the district to raise the levy for the museum’s operating expenses.
“Wherever they go they are going to incur expenses that they are not incurring right now including utilities and maintenance costs,” Dayian said. “Plus they are going to have significant moving expenses.”
The Walter Elwood Museum currently leases 300 Guy Park Ave., from the school district for $1. In a conference call to the state Department of Education on Friday, members of the museum and school board learned that the district is allowed to lease unused space to the museum for fair market value, a price that can be determined by the Board of Education.
Museum Board President Jacki Meola said she doesn’t think the School Board will support the museum staying at 300 Guy Park Ave.
“I can read the writing on the wall, I know they aren’t in support of the museum staying at 300 Guy Park Ave., but what I hope they’d be in support of is assisting the museum through the transition,” Meola said.
By assisting in the transition, Meola hopes the School Board will agree to open the museum so museum staff can begin to prepare to move the collection, which contains over 200,000 items.
“The amount of time it would take us to move anywhere with the building closed and no fundraising capability and without public access to the collection would be very, very difficult,” she said.
The School Board plans to hear a proposal from Pyramid Brokerage Co., to sell 300 Guy Park Ave., at tonight’s board meeting.
The School Board voted 3-2 to get proposals from real estate agents to sell the building at its last meeting in September. School Board President Gina DeRossi said she didn’t expect the board to decide tonight whether to market the property for sale. “I’d like to see more than one person put in for any bid,” DeRossi said. Pyramid Brokerage Co., has marketed the former Bacon School for sale along with district property on Midline Road. The School Board is also expected to chose a proposal for dealing with the bat infestation at 300 Guy Park Ave. tonight