By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – The Oren Dunn City Museum, which for years had plans to relocate to the old Carnation Milk plant, now wants to stay put.
Museum Advisory Board members unanimously recommended to the City Council on Tuesday that they remain in their current Ballard Park location and construct a new building on the same property.
The new, 12,500-square-foot building would allow the museum’s collection to expand while preserving the current, 5,000-square-foot facility for classrooms and other educational uses. It also would continue housing the Veterans Museum and War Memorial.
“Tupelo has such great history, but we have nowhere to really showcase that,” said Chris Hill of the advisory board. “We feel this plan would give us this opportunity.”
Plans also call for a walking trail and plaza that would incorporate a timeline of the city.
Council members generally supported the plan, which was presented in an illustration showing the new building and other amenities, but they made no firm funding commitments. Council President Fred Pitts said he wanted to talk about it more first.
Also supportive was Mayor Jack Reed Jr.
“It would take millions of dollars to refit the old mill,” Reed said of the Carnation plant. “It would take a lot of money to rebuild elsewhere. It’s a good idea to expand what we’ve got where we are.”
It’s a surprise reversal from five or six years ago when the museum board voted to relocate to the 85-year-old vacant plant.
The city afterward acquired the structure from then-owner Tommy Morgan and an architectural plan was devised. But it has sat on a shelf since then.