Mount Holly City Council Announces Expansion of Veterans Park and Relocation of Mount Holly Museum
Mount Holly, NC - During Monday night’s council meeting, Mount Holly City Council voted on two key projects that align with the City’s Strategic Vision Plan. These projects continue to enhance initiatives for fostering a vision of the future and reflecting the values of the community.
The Council unanimously voted to direct City Staff to initiate the formal process of requesting proposals from developers for the expansion of Veterans Park currently located a block away from the heart of the downtown district as part of a downtown development.
Amenities will include an amphitheater, splash pad, mixed-use development, and parking. Once completed, the park’s location will serve as the epicenter of the expanded downtown district and the Municipal Complex. The current Municipal Complex campus includes City Hall, the Grand Hall (Mount Holly’s premier event space), the police department, administration offices, the Arts on the Greenway art center, the Mount Holly Police Department Memorial Plaza, and Linear Park a vital cog in the wheel of the Carolina Thread Trail regional network.
Conceptual Rendering of the Veterans Park Expansion
Additionally, the Council voted on an agenda item focused on the potential relocation of the Mount Holly History Museum.
The Mount Holly Historical Society, formed in 2011, entered into a formal agreement with the City of Mount Holly recognizing its responsibility to maintain the City’s archives. The City agreed to provide a suitable repository for the protection and display of these priceless artifacts. Currently, the History Museum is located in a City-owned building, commonly referred to as Old City Hall, located at 131 S. Main Street.
After discovering mold and other environmental concerns in the unconditioned basement level of the building, which houses the City Archives, the museum’s potential relocation was first brought up for consideration during the Council Annual Retreat in February 2022. At this time, City Council provided unanimous consensus to approve approximately $85,000 in architectural design of the proposed relocation site located at the Municipal Complex.
In September 2022, a “town hall” format meeting was held during the regularly-scheduled Work Session to discuss the proposed relocation and to receive citizen-led feedback from the public. In October 2022, Council approved $85,000 to conduct a facility condition assessment of the Old City Hall building, and the mayoral-appointed task force, called the Old City Hall Facilities Committee, was formed. This group includes representatives from the Historical Society (including its current president and 3 former presidents), City Council liaisons, City staff members, and citizens.
On October 2, 2023, the Old City Hall Facilities Committee unanimously agreed to give the City Council direction to sell the Old City Hall and move the History Museum to the Municipal Complex. The Historical Society board met on October 10, 2023, and requested the City give the Historical Society 30 days to raise funds to purchase the Old City Hall.
During Monday’s meeting, Creech & Associates provided the results of the facility assessment detailed improvements for ADA needs, environmental abatement, and other building code considerations. Additionally, the report indicated asbestos, lead paint, mold and a deteriorating building, with associated renovation costs estimated to be between $800,000 - $1.5 million. Based on the known contaminants, the City could potentially be liable for future legal exposure after being informed of the contamination in the building.
The City Council voted 4-2 to follow the recommendations of both the Old City Hall Facilities Committee and the Historical Society (Ayes - Craig, Meadows, Pawlish, Shoemaker; Noes - Harris, Moore). The motion included an appraisal of the Old City Hall and listing the property no sooner than December 1, 2023 in a public upset bid process, thus providing 50 days for the Historical Society to raise funds starting with their October 10 meeting.
“The City is ensuring the artifacts entrusted to us by citizens are preserved and displayed in a museum setting that is safe and conducive to preserving our history,” remarked Mayor Bryan Hough. “Facility and hazardous materials assessments made it clear that the City has a fiduciary and moral obligation to move the Mount Holly Museum to a facility that provides a contaminant-free, protected location to house these priceless artifacts.”
Danny Jackson, Interim City Manager, shared vital perspective to both of these key projects through his experience as the former City Manager with a career spanning over 30 years with Mount Holly. Mr. Jackson acknowledged, "This year marks the twenty year anniversary of the Strategic Vision Plan process that has a long history of public engagement to help shape the vision and direction of the City." Mr. Jackson continued, “This strategic process has assured the thoughtful, intentional decisions made by the Mayor and City Council for implementation of the goals and objectives the community has supported. For example, the former City Hall location commonly, referred to as Old City Hall, also housed the City offices and historical archives for many years. The Strategic Vision Plan outlined the relocation of the City offices to the Municipal Complex, which occurred in 2008. Now the intent is to bring the museum and archives under one roof once again.”
In the 2003 Vision Process, five main goals, chosen by citizens and included in the 2008 Strategic Vision Plan update were carried forward, those goals being:
- Great Main Street and Town Center (Accomplished in 2008)
- Greenways and Green Connections (Many accomplishments to date and on-going)
- Linear Park Downtown Connector Trail (Accomplished in 2010)
- Waterfront Restaurant with Docks (Accomplished in 2016)
- Museum and Event Space (Event Space in 2008 and Museum in 2011)
Visit the City of Mount Holly website, www.mtholly.us, for full details.
Additional information regarding the relocation of the Mount Holly museum including a comprehensive timeline can be accessed here.
For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact Mary Blomquist at firstname.lastname@example.org.