VERMILION — It’s been a long three years but on Wednesday, Vermilion finally took ownership of an old museum that they plan to re-establish as a public lakefront property.
The property of the former Inland Seas Maritime Museum, which sits on the waterfront near the end of Main Street in Vermilion, closed in 2012. The museum reopened in Toledo as the National Museum of the Great Lakes in the spring, and the Vermilion property and museum building was sold to the city for $1.65 million.
The purchase has been a long time coming, according to Vermilion Mayor Eileen Bulan, who said that the city entered into an agreement to buy the museum back in 2011. For three years, the city raised money from private donors and solicited grants to finalize the deal. Through the Western Reserve Land Conservancy, the city received $878,000 from the Clean Ohio Fund and $90,000 from the State of Ohio Nature Works and the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
The funding from the state along with money from private donors finally allowed the city to secure the property and building this week — although how it will be put to use is still up in the air.
“This project preserves the view shed in downtown Vermilion while creating a new public park open to passive recreation,” Western Reserve Land Conservancy project manager Jeffrey Schiffman said in an email.
The building will be leased back to the museum for a year while it is cleaned out. In the meantime, Bulan said, the city will have public meetings to determine how to repurpose the building and the property.
Regardless of what the city decides to do, the building will be made into public space and will have some connection to the waterfront, possibly even imitating Lakeview Park in Lorain, Bulan said.
“I don’t know … We’re just enjoying today. It took a long time,” she said.