Thursday, March 11, 2004

West Chester urged to file plans to protect grant for museum



By John Kiesewetter
The Cincinnati Enquirer

WEST CHESTER TWP. - Township trustees, who don't want to put another park levy on the ballot yet, have to provide financial support plans so that a Voice of America museum can receive a $40,000 grant.

The money was donated to the Veterans' Voice of America Fund by the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, on the condition the township pass a park levy in the next year.

But township trustees say they don't plan to put another park levy on the ballot soon, after the crushing defeat of a five-year, 1.95-mill issue in November. That money would have paid for improvements throughout the park system, including part of the cost of creating the Voice of America museum, said Bill Zerkle, township parks director.

The estimated price tag is $5 million for constructing museums and exhibits in the historic building from which the U.S. began broadcasting news and programming to the world in 1944.

The foundation pledged $40,000 toward the $100,000 lobby elevator, said Fred Carroll, vice president of the Veterans' Voice of America Fund.

The park levy stipulation was included to assure the township had funds to operate the museum, said Beth Reiter, the foundation's communications director. But it's not a deal-breaker, she said Wednesday.

"If the township has a formal alternative plan to sustain that facility as a museum, they are encouraged to present it to the foundation, and our grant review committee will consider it, at the latest in May," she said Wednesday.

Trustees said they want to talk to foundation officers about how they can demonstrate their commitment to the museum.

Trustees also Tuesday passed a resolution stating that the Voice of America museum "was the best use" of the two-story yellow brick building on 330 acres of park property along Tylersville Road.

The VOA will house three museums - the Gray Wireless antique radio collection previously displayed at WGUC-FM; the Media Heritage collection by WVXU-FM staffers Mike Martini and Mark Magistrelli, and an amateur radio museum, Carroll said.

E-mail jkiesewetter@enquirer.com




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