City commissioners discuss public art program, make progress on future Discovery Center exhibit

Public art program
The Manhattan City Commission discussed the possibility of hiring a full-time public arts program coordinator during its meeting Tuesday.
The proposed staff member would help implement the city’s public arts program and potential new policies, duties which are currently split among multiple city departments.
Mayor Wynn Butler was not in favor of the proposal, saying it’s not in alignment with what he believes should be the city’s priorities.
On the other hand, commissioner Usha Reddi says hiring a public arts program coordinator would benefit both city staff and residents who want more public art.
The city also looked at the possibility of dedicating a percentage of CIP funds to public art.
Most of the commission was not on board with this idea.
Kidscape project
The Manhattan City Commission awarded an approximately $62,000 design-build contract to McCown-Gordon Construction to complete Phase One of the Discovery Center Kidscape project.

The move is a step toward the completion of a permanent exhibit on the Discovery Center’s second floor, which is currently occupied by temporary traveling exhibits and a children’s play area.

Phase One will result in a 30 percent design and Guaranteed Maximum Price for the project.

Once Phase One is completed later this year, city officials will present the Kidscape design to the commission.

The $1.3 million project, which is not being funded by city tax dollars, is scheduled to open in April 2022.

Comments on art museum

Manhattan city commissioners commented on the recent approval by the Kansas Secretary of Commerce of the use of STAR bonds to help fund the $43.6 million Museum of Art and Light.
Commissioner Mark Hatesohl says that while there is still a ways to go, he likes to see the project moving forward.
Commissioner Linda Morse says she thinks the facility will help replace tourism that was lost when the Country Stampede music festival relocated to Topeka.
Officials are forecasting that the museum will bring in about 75,000 visitors per year.
The current plan is for STAR bonds to pay for about half of the project costs with the rest being covered by private funds.
Industrial Revenue Bonds
The Manhattan City Commission unanimously approved the issuance of up to $50 million in Industrial Revenue Bonds to Meadowlark Hills Retirement Community during its meeting Tuesday.
Mayor Wynn Butler says the city is not taking on any financial obligations with this move.
The bond will mostly be used to refund previously issued IRBs, but will also help pay for capital improvements.
The city previously issued  two IRBs to Meadowlark Hills in 2007, each worth about $20 million to $25 million.
These bonds were refinanced in 2016 for $45 million.
Another IRB worth $3 million was issued to Meadowlark Hills in 2017 to fund the addition of two Home Plus facilities.

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