Plans to rebuild the town’s ageing hall near the Cromwell Heritage Precinct have been afoot for more than two decades and despite being marred by a history of controversy and indecision, the project is looking closer than ever.
The relocation of the Cromwell Museum from the town’s mall to the hall - an idea explored back in 2009 - was incorporated in the plans, a move which Museum Trust chairman Martin Anderson said was "quite exciting".
"The relocation of the museum will free up a potentially valuable building within the mall, helping to offset the capital costs of the new museum.
"The Trust is looking forward to developing and running a new Cromwell Museum and believes it can help defray the running costs of the new cultural complex by working collaboratively with the Council and the Cromwell Community Board," Mr Anderson said.
The museum’s current building in the mall was no longer fit for purpose, he said.
At the Cromwell Community Board meeting last month Central Otago District mayor Tim Cadogan questioned if the Trust could justify a new $6million to $8m museum in the new multi-purpose facility, especially given museum visitor numbers were around 5000 people annually.
The mayor also questioned if the museum would be able to meet operational costs in a newer, larger space.
Mr Anderson told the Otago Daily Times the museum was largely run and maintained by a group of dedicated volunteers and one part-time paid employee who was a trained museum professional.
The trust had had internal discussions about how the museum would operate in the new facility but no decisions could be made until the operating plans for the wider facility had been held - something that the community board were yet to decide upon, and the trust were keen to be involved in.
"The question of operational costs has been very much with council and community board ... we so far haven’t been in on those but I think we can make a contribution if we are involved," he said.
"The trust believes that the new museum will attract many more visitors, including tourists, given its location within the historic precinct and adjacent to the cycle trail.
"... We can build and run a world-class museum that Central Otago can be proud of and which will ... bring people to visit and to use the new facility in the historic precinct."