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Old Museum and Library Building to Be Sold, City Council Decides

Nome's Front Street on a wintry night

Nome’s City Council has approved the sale of the old museum and library building for the price of $351,000, although it was not a unanimous decision.

Five out of six councilmen were present for Monday night’s regular meeting, and with Mayor Richard Beneville out of town, councilman Stan Anderson doubled as acting mayor. After voting in favor of a resolution to put the surplus municipal properties out to bid, the Council then deliberated on awarding two properties to the interested bidders.

City Manager Tom Moran prefaced the resolution with some information from the City attorney.

“One: that the ordinance just authorizes the sale, it doesn’t actually sell the properties. Number two is that the City Council may reject all bids if it decides that the City can still hold on to one property, and it can then go ahead and sell the bids on another lot. So, you can reject all bids on one property and still accept bids on another property. And the third point is that the City Council should not reject one responsive and responsible bid just to award to the next highest responsible and responsive bid.”

Moran explained that Mason Evans, the interested buyer, plans to turn the old museum and library building into a retail marijuana dispensary if the Council awards the bid to him. Councilman Mark Johnson took issue with selling the historic building for the purposes of furthering the marijuana industry in Nome.

“For decades, children of Nome, including my own children growing up here and a number of people in this room and councilmen sitting at this table, have spent countless hours visiting the library and museum of Nome. Given the historic positive influence that this building has given the children and community of Nome, it is very sad that we are now selling this historic building to sell and promote marijuana.”

Johnson then put forth an amendment to reject the bid for the old museum and library property but allow Calvin Schaeffer to purchase the separate lot he bid on, for roughly $19,000.

Councilman Gerald Brown voiced his opposition to marijuana as well; however, he was not in favor of withholding the old museum and library property:

“I mean, it’s legal. We put it out to bid, we didn’t say you couldn’t buy it for certain purposes. We said whoever gives us the most money, in effect we’ll sell it to them. So I think we should follow through with that.”

The proposed amendment was not seconded, so the Council voted to approve the main motion with only one ‘no’ vote from Johnson. Before adjourning their regular meeting, the Council approved a resolution to contract with Altman, Rogers, & Co. for audit services this fiscal year.

Nome’s City Council will not convene in early March for their regular meeting due to scheduling conflicts with Iditarod activities.

Image at top: file photo: Nome’s Front Street. Photo: David Dodman, KNOM.