MOUNT PLEASANT — The plot of land west of Mount Pleasant Village Hall and north of the West Lawn Cemetery has been suggested as a site for a new home of the Racine Heritage Museum. But village trustees have mixed feelings about the proposal.
The Racine Heritage Museum Board has been vocal about the fact that the museum has outgrown its current location at 701 Main St. in Downtown Racine.
The village bought the 10-acre piece of land across the street from Village Hall in 2015 for $25,000.
The Mount Pleasant Tourism Commission recommended that the village consider housing the museum, but at the Village Board's Committee of the Whole meeting on Monday, trustees debated the merits.
Trustee Sonny Havn said the land across from the village was purchased with the intent to build a new fire station there, and that if the village were to try to find a new location for a fire station, “good luck finding it and good luck playing for it.”
Trustee John Hewitt said the village had not made an agreement to build a fire station on that land.
“There was never a total, absolute agreement that there was going to be a fire station, it was only ever intended for something if it came up,” Hewitt said. “There was nothing in writing; there was nothing voted on specifically for a fire station. It was intended for other use, an unknown, but at the time 10 acres for $25,000 was very reasonable.”
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To add to the confusion, Village Administrator Maureen Murphy read a report about the land from 2015 that contained the line “there is clear potential as a possible fire station location and perhaps other uses.”
Murphy said there was some discussion on locating the museum in tax incremental district (TID) 5, which is where the Foxconn development is located, however there is a restriction in the development agreement that would require board approval for the museum to be built in that area.
“We’re obviously trying not to have not-for-profit, tax-exempt businesses locate in TID 5,” Murphy said.
However, Trustee Gary Feest pointed out that the land across from the village is also in a TID, which would be of limited financial benefit for the village.
“There were not agreements that it was going to be a fire station,” Feest agreed. “But from my perspective, before we commit to giving this piece of landor selling this piece of land to the museum, what’s more important to this village? Fire protection in the right location or an amenity like a museum to draw tourists? I would go for the fire station.”
Village President Dave DeGroot said the agreement with Sturtevant for the South Shore Fire Department, calls for the Mount Pleasant Village Hall area to be covered by South Shore Station 9 at 2801 89th St., Sturtevant.
“As long as Sturtevant is a partner of ours, as long as we got a fire station a mile to the south of here, I just don’t see a fire station getting built across the street,” DeGroot said.
Trustee Anna Marie Clausen said the village is growing and the museum proposal is an opportunity to make the Village Hall area more of a community area.
“It was thought that with the Village Hall being here, the campus park, the new apartment complex being developed, and potentially future development along Highway 20, it would be a good location (for the museum),” Clausen said.