South Charlotte

Leaders endorse military museum

Commissioners have voted unanimously to endorse a military museum proposal for the town, but stopped short of committing to a location.

Several months ago, organizers of the Armed Forces Museum and Archives of the Carolinas asked commissioners to let them put the museum in the old Bradford Clinic building beside Stumptown Park.

The town bought that property last year for a little over $1 million.

Mayor Lee Myers says he would be more inclined to commit the building to the museum if the town could secure the old Agricultural Building, beside the Matthews Community Center. That would allow expansion of the Community Center.

The Agricultural Building, a part of the old Matthews School, still belongs to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. It's not used for classes anymore, but Matthews Elementary School uses it for storage.

In 1984, the town bought the old school building from CMS for $1 and completely renovated and restored it in the late 1990s. Now they'd like to make a similar deal with the Agricultural Building.

Town manager Hazen Blodgett says he believes an agreement could be worked out with CMS so the town could purchase the building, renovate it, and then offer art classes and other activities to Matthews Elementary School students.

Commissioners at their Monday meeting directed Blodgett to contact the school system about acquiring the property.

Commissioners also asked Matthews Park and Recreation and Cultural Resource Director Lee Tillery to create a plan projecting park, recreation, and cultural-resource space needs over the next five years.

Mayor Lee Myers said, “We spent $1 million for the building and property and need to be careful how we proceed with it. As a board, we need to make sure that we're going in the right direction and doing it with due diligence.”

Commissioner Bill Dixon, who also is on the board of the military museum, says he understands the hesitation, but told the board the museum can only be put on hold for so long.

“We have a lot of things in play and a lot of it is waiting until we have a location,” Dixon said.

He said several other municipalities have approached the group, expressing interest in the museum if a suitable location couldn't be found in Matthews.

In other business, commissioners:

Heard a presentation from the Matthews Police Department encouraging town residents to observe National Night Out, scheduled for Tuesday. On that evening, residents are encouraged to turn on their porch lights, get out of their houses, and meet their neighbors. Chief Rob Hunter said neighbors knowing neighbors is one of the best ways to ensure a safe community.

Reviewed a draft of the town's sidewalk master plan.

Deferred making a decision on a company to design a new Web site for the town, asking staff to bring more information to the Aug. 11 meeting.