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Perkins Center Seeks Assistance from Township

Staff at Perkins Center for the Arts in Moorestown are asking for financial support from the township as they look ahead to future renovations.

With the  99 percent finished, staff there are asking for the township’s help to make further structural improvements to the historic buildings.

Executive director Alan Willoughby told township council about a number of improvements and upgrades needed at the 102-year-old Tudor Revival home and adjacent carriage house—both of which are on the state and national registry of historic buildings—including new roofs, more handicap accessibility, electrical rewiring, new lighting and repaving of the parking lot, among other things.

Willoughby said these improvements are “both necessary and critical to ensure the continued health and viability of the structures … and to ensure and enhance the historic integrity of this very special Moorestown asset.”

Key to getting these renovations off the ground, he said, is the creation of a preservation plan for the . To do that, Willoughby wants to hire a preservation specialist through the New Jersey Historic Trust.

“By developing that plan, that will allow us to go back to the Historic Trust with a much stronger case for the larger scale renovations that we feel are required,” said treasurer Paul .

Hiring the specialist and getting the preservation plan done costs money, of course, which is where the township comes in.

Willoughby said he’s in the process of applying for a Historic Site Management Grant, which provides a 3-to-1 matching grant, meaning for every $1 Perkins puts in, the state provides $3. It would be great, he said, if Perkins could get some, or all, of the match from the township.

Buttressing Perkins’ appeal is the fact that the township owns the property. The arts center, which is in the 13th year of a 25-year lease, pays the township $1 annually for the property.

Willoughby said he’s applying for a $45,000 grant, so a $15,000 contribution from the township—possibly from the Open Space, Recreation, Farmland and Historic Preservation Trust Fund—would cover the match.

Township manager Scott Carew was enthusiastic about the notion of the township providing some support for the project, saying, “Spending a little to get this done could result in hundreds of thousands in available grants.”

If Perkins had the match in hand by the time the application was submitted, it’d be that much more likely to receive the grant, according to Willoughby.

Though council was noncommittal Monday night, a few members expressed interest in supporting Perkins, including Mayor John Button and Councilman Chris Chiacchio.

“It’s township property,” said Chiacchio. “We have a responsibility to maintain it.”

Paul Canton III July 26, 2012 at 02:56 AM
Two corrections to a couple of the comments: 1.) The Perkins House is owned by Moorestown Township. Perkins leases it from them. It is designated on the National Historic Register, and is located in Open Space owned by Moorestown Township. 2.) The opportunity for the Matching Grant from the NJ Historic Trust just came up recently, so neither the Perkins Board, nor the Town Council anticipated the need for the matching funds. We, Perkins, felt it was such a good opportunity, that we approached Council to see if there were appropriate funds available through the township, that might help us seize this deal which is a 3-1 Grant for Planning. This Grant will allow us to go for much larger matching grants in the future, thereby sparing funds from local individuals and local taxpayers, and allowing Perkins' board to continue its fundraising efforts with more focus on our mission as a Center for the Arts to improve our programs, offer scholarship programs for children of underprivileged circumstances, etc. Paul Canton III, Perkins Center for the Arts Board Member and Treasurer
Ed Nice July 26, 2012 at 04:49 PM
Paul nice job. Unlike Townie I support Perkins and your efforts to get some of Perkins' supporters tax dollars back from the Historic Preservation eligible use of OS fund. You pay the tax so why shouldn't you get to use it for what you intended it for.
Yah Mo B There July 26, 2012 at 05:14 PM
what about young families? and anyone else for that matter. it's not as if everyone under the age og 65 is coasting. I understand everyone has a different situation, but stop looking to govt at any level to solve your problems. Alot of us are tight
Townie July 26, 2012 at 05:37 PM
Ed. Do you ever post a comment without your agenda front and center? It's so painfully boring. I support Perkins. I've served other arts organizations in the area since the early 90's as a board member and volunteer. What I don't support is the direct, targeted funding of legal entities through direct tax dollar grants. I actually had typed a response earlier to Paul, and then deleted it. His comments about continuing fundraising with more focus on their mission is a bit concerning. I assume the building helps in delivering that mission. If not, then why keep it. Give it back to town and let us fix it (since we own it). Maybe Perkins should take up space in a less expensive building and rent space to deliver programs to needy kids (I would have avoided such a cliche...but so be it). Maybe they'll leave the Perkins House and we can put some of the displaced town hall personnel in there? Unlike you Ed, I see tax dollars as something that funds necessary services to the community. It's not a deposit account for when you want to fund something. Noone gets to "intend" their taxes for anything? That attitude explains your OS position completely. It's not your intentions that matter....it's the majorities. Do I want Perkins to get the matching funds? Absolutely. I just want the Board to raise the money themselves. They raised almost $600k last year...surely they can find $15k more for such a worthy cause.
Tom July 26, 2012 at 06:08 PM
I don't always agree with Ed Nice but at least he makes the attempt to provide facts to help the discussions as colorful as they can be at times. I am not sure how you can say that if he supports the open space fund for all of its stated purposes that means he has an agenda. Quite the opposite is true as he is stating he represents everyone and not one group over another. That's hardly an agenda. If more people were interested in actually solving problems and sharing, we wouldn't have as many issues. If Mr. Canton or Ed or PREIT for that matter pays his open space taxes, why is it wrong for any of them to want it used for what they want in accordance with what is allowed (subject to the lawsuit)?

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