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City finds new angle for Methodist Church renovations: Celina applies for grant to build transportation museum in basement
In an effort to stretch their dollars, the Celina City Council approved a grant request Monday that would help fund renovations to the First United Methodist Church and convert its basement into a transportation museum and visitors center.
The city recently completed its purchase of the historic church, which was built in 1926, with bond-approved funding. The initial plans for the building were to turn it into a community theater, but the pending grant request with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) would allow the city to increase the scope of the project.
If approved, the grant would provide $1.3 million for the project with a 20 percent match from the city equaling $344,000. TxDOT stopped accepting applications Friday, so the process is still in an early stage and may never come to fruition. The city has only approved funding for the transportation museum and visitors center if its project is chosen for the grant.
“It has to be connected with education, so the museum will concentrate on your history, but also the history of rural roads,” Karl Komatsu, a consultant on the project, told the Celina City Council, “which we think will be a unique little tweak from other types of grant applications that the TxDOT selection committee may see.”
If the grant comes to fruition, the city has agreed to contribute additional funding to bring its share of the project to $738,000 and the total amount to $2.1 million. The approved resolution also states that profits, if any, will be applied to the building's operation and maintenance.
David Gaines, assistant to the city manager, said that building a transportation museum wasn't something that was originally considered, but that the city was open to the possibility and saw the grant as a means of saving money.
“It would help renovate the entire facility so we could turn the upstairs into a theater and keep the history of the building, since it’s been in Celina for so long,” he said.
The initial floor plans show the basement including an exhibit hall; several galleries with one covering the Celina Pike, the first dedicated automobile roadway in Collin County; an area with tourism information and offices for the city's Main Street and the Convention and Visitors Bureau departments.
The city also plans on converting the upper level of the church into a theater and its fellowship hall into a senior activity center. If approved for a grant, there is no timeline on how long the project would take. The First United Methodist congregation is currently leasing the building and will remain there until their new church is built.