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$1M marked for Westmoreland art museum

Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
 

Westmoreland Museum of American Art in Greensburg will be getting $1 million to use toward its expansion, thanks to the state and taxpayers.

Gov. Tom Corbett released the money for the museum in late December, one of 58 projects statewide receiving about $133.2 million in Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program money.

The museum was Westmoreland County's lone recipient this time in the funding program, designed to generate jobs and bolster development.

On Monday, Greensburg City Council, which learned about the museum receiving the funding only a few days ago, opened up the 2014 budget to include a line-item for the funding. Council voted, 5-0, to accept the money in its role as sponsoring agency between the state and museum.

“I'm very happy,” Mayor Ron Silvis said. “If we don't take it, some other municipality will.”

Judith O'Toole, museum director and chief executive officer, could not be reached for comment.

Museum officials are looking to expand the cultural attraction by about 12,500 square feet with space for galleries, classrooms and studios as part of the approximately $20 million project.

A 60-foot cantilever structure will be built on the North Maple Avenue side of the building. Workers have removed the four granite pillars on the front of the museum, and a covered walkway with tables and chairs will replace the columns.

Extensive landscaping is planned for an area to the front of the attraction.

The mound of earth on the downtown Greensburg side of the building will be leveled to improve visibility and replaced by tiered gardens, museum officials said. Lush native plants and trees, along with a meadow, will be planted.

Workers will add three inter­­connected walkways and a parking area to the front of the building.

Museum officials want to reopen the cultural attraction in 2015.

They are using the Unity building that formerly housed Stickley Audi and Co. on Village Drive, off Route 30, as a temporary site for the museum, called Westmoreland @rt30.

Bob Stiles is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6622 or bstiles@tribweb.com.

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