The Garden City Telegram
10/7/2013
OPINIONS AND COMMENTARY

Arts home

Former Legion setting could blossom into an attraction.

Garden City's former American Legion building flaunts an interesting design, making it an artistic addition of sorts to the downtown landscape.

With that in mind, it was interesting to hear a pitch from Garden City Arts to create a community art gallery in the Pine Street property now owned by the city of Garden City.

Jeffrey Weeast, representing Garden City Arts, recently told the Garden City Commission the arts group had time, money and manpower to put into refurbishing the building and turning it into a source of pride for the community.

A need for more space, not the Legion building's unique appearance and character, would be the driving force behind such a plan from a local arts organization interested in displaying more art, and involving more artists from the region.

The site also could house increasingly popular workshops.

The venture likely wouldn't include a significant sum for purchase of the property, because funds generated by Weeast and the group for the art gallery project would be needed to cover the cost of renovating the facility.

If the project could return the building to form as a community asset, city officials should indeed consider a nominal price for the property recently valued at about $57,000, and in need of work.

The Legion building had been pitched as a possibility for apartments, which seemed welcome in the midst of a critical housing shortage. But concerns stemming from allowing first-floor residential units downtown stymied that plan.

Beyond that proposal, interest in the building has been scarce.

The city should be pleased to hear a new and intriguing possibility from an organization apparently willing to pony up enough resources to develop a facility that would benefit the public.

Progressive communities, after all, know how good access to the arts improves local quality of life. Such local attractions warrant support.

Commissioners asked Weeast to prepare a written proposal with more information.

Should city commissioners find the plan viable, it would deserve strong consideration as an endeavor that could deliver another nice draw for the downtown district and community as a whole.