BOUNTIFUL - Bountiful City officials have decided to disband their history commission.
A city council liaison, currently Richard Higginson, will continue to interact with what basically is the Bountiful Historical Society.
That was among decisions made by the mayor and council during a retreat held Feb. 6 and 7.
The move was seen as a way to avoid duplication and what sometimes is confusion, officials said. The city’s history would be treated more similarly to the arts, through the Bountiful Davis/Art Council
“We’ve recognized the city has some responsibility to keep track of its history. But the bulk of it is handled perfectly well by a private organization,” said Councilman John Pitt.
“We rely on them to keep track of our history. We’re only talking about a handful of enthusiastic people,” he said.
The city’s museum board already functions as a nonprofit 5013C and has been conducting fund raising efforts.
It has about $300,000 in its coffers, collected from donors to support construction of a museum. A new museum was put on hold last year when plans for a new city hall were announced, along with remodeling of the existing city hall.
However, a new city hall has been scrapped, at least pending results of a soon-to-be completed study. That leaves the question of a new museum unanswered.
City Attorney Rusty Mahan said the museum board could report any pending historical building demolitions to the engineering department and carry on other related functions.
“We have no statutory responsibility” to support a museum, said Councilman John Marc Knight. “What’s the proper role of government? This isn’t a core value.”
The city could provide financial support, as it does to the BDAC, as part of any agreement with the group, said City Manager Gary Hill.
“The starting point (for a museum) was 10 years ago. That’s come and gone,” said Pitt. “They ought to have some concrete results. We’ve given them options on funding, to the extent we’d help pay for it. They’ve always needed more money.”
City Administration Intern Dave Johnson said “location and community make the difference” on museum success.
Tiny Fairview, in Sanpete County, gets 12,000 visitors annually to its museum. Sandy, a city of nearly 100,000 people, gets 1,200, he said.
“The problem with Sandy and Bountiful is a museum is cool” only for a few, older residents, Higginson said.
“The committee’s argument has been that if we build it, they will come. I’m not sure they will come,” Hill said.
“Count on our significant partnership, but the organization can run itself. You give us a good plan and we’ll support it,” said Pitt.
“We’re talking increased expectations from those (museum) people,” Higginson said. “They are passionate, willing to give a lot to this. Hopefully we can help them succeed by helping them with some autonomy.”