Normal Council approves the proposed new strategic plan for the museum

Normal Town staff and council members called council member Stan North on Monday evening on several issues when he questioned town practices, including a bill for a drainage study in Uptown . When Nord asked if the study included underpass drainage, City Manager Pam Reece referred it to a previous email response to the question stating it did not.

North then tried to say it was shortsighted to pay for the study and not include underpass drainage. Mayor Chris Koos pushed back on North, referring to the North question email written well in advance of the meeting.

“Mr. Nord, I would like to point out in the email response to you that drainage issues would be part of the design of phase two,” Koos said.

North also asked why public input is not sought in the planning of the Children’s Discovery Museum exhibits, only to be told several ways it is considered.

“We also work with our local schools, our homeschools, as you mentioned earlier. We work with daycare centers that we partner with, anyone who wants to give their opinion, our museum families, visitors, we actually have quite a lot of stakeholder input, ”said museum director Beth Whisman.

Whisman said the strategic planning process is meant to gather public input as well as probe what other museums are doing.

Nord said it would be good if a portion of the grants the museum brings in be returned to the city to ease the burden on taxpayers and help run the museum. City staff said this is already happening, depending on whether the grant pays for exhibitions or operations.

“Just to alleviate any confusion that might be generated by this (remark from Nord), the closed site grant went to the general fund to make up for lost COVID year revenue and to help the operation due to the pandemic. This is the purpose of the grant, ”Reece said, adding that the museum raised more than $ 500,000 in grants last year.

North also asked staff why the museum foundation is not paying for the facility’s strategic plan. Staff noted that the plan is part of the current fiscal year budget previously approved by the board. The foundation is raising money to pay for the much more expensive exhibition installation, and the city has historically paid for the planning, Reece said.

The previous strategic plan created a decade ago led to five new exhibitions. Foundation board chairman Rob Widmer told the board in public comments at the start of the meeting that the foundation raised more than $ 1 million in private donations for the installation of these exhibits.

North also questioned the Request for Proposal (RFP) that resulted in the $ 50,000 contract for the plan before council. He wanted to know the amount of the other offers. Staff and board members noted that there were no bids and that the bidding process takes into account historical performance, credentials and expertise as well as price.

“This is a normal and typical financial proposal that we see executed on a regular and routine basis. This is nothing out of the ordinary. The request for proposal is also about qualifications and not just dollars and it is the difference, “said Kevin McCarthy, board member.

Whisman noted that the four responses to the call for the strategic plan were roughly the same, with one that was $ 8,000 more.

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Pia Miller

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