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City hires contractor to make improvements to Safety Harbor Museum

SAFETY HARBOR — The city has hired a contractor to dress up the unadorned exterior of the Safety Harbor Museum and make some changes inside.

However, when the bids for that work came in higher than expected, city officials decided that some planned interior renovations would have to be done later by city crews.

The City Commission voted to hire GSA Contracting Inc. of Safety Harbor to do the renovations at a cost of no more than $125,000. The money will come from Community Redevelopment Agency funds.

"I guess we're on our way," said Mayor Andy Steingold after the commission voted 5-0 to hire GSA.

The project will add a front porch, double-door entrance, windows, decorative columns and plank siding to the outside of the museum, which is now just a rectangular stucco building.

Interior improvements will include rearranging walls, creating offices and changing ceiling fixtures.

Later, Safety Harbor hopes to renovate the kitchen and restrooms, using city workers.

Late last year the city reached an agreement with the museum board to take over management of daily operations at the long-struggling museum, which has a collection of artifacts focused on the local area's history. It has also hosted traveling exhibitions.

From now on, the city staff, museum board and museum volunteers will collaborate on exhibits and programming, which will still involve historical education but will expand to include cultural and arts activities.

The city's Leisure Services employees will staff the museum, and outside instructors will be hired to provide many of its classes and programs. When the city recently put out a call for instructors to gauge interest, it received calls from 13 people within two days.

"The advantage we all have now is that we will have city staff at the facility running the operation," said City Manager Matt Spoor. "That helps both the museum and the city."

The small museum, at 329 Bayshore Blvd., is closed for the renovations. The city hopes to open the renovated building by late summer.

Diane Steinle can be reached at (727) 445-4184 or dsteinle@tampabay.com. To write a letter to the editor, go to tampabay.com/letters.

City hires contractor to make improvements to Safety Harbor Museum 04/26/12 [Last modified: Thursday, April 26, 2012 7:36pm]
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