The City Council will decide again next month whether to put out big money in an attempt to gain control of vacant Brigham Young Academy.
"It's really time to get on with that plan and move forward," said Gary Golightly, city economic development director.In February, the council approved a resolution to spend $200,000 for an option on the property and studies on renovation and use possibilities. But after the Utah County Commission rejected Provo's request for $1 million in restaurant tax revenue over eight years, the council backed off.
Mayor Mike Hill and Golightly asked the council Tuesday to reconsider appropriating the money. Council members agreed to make a decision Aug. 24.
Hill said the city ought to own and determine the destiny of the property, which was valued at $800,000 after an appraisal five years ago. The city hopes the private sector will help buy the block.
But the Community Service Foundation of Utah Valley, which currently controls the block along with Collier Heinz & Associates of Salt Lake City, isn't interested in selling an option.
"If it were to be sold, it would have to be sold outright," said Mary Gay Hatch, foundation secretary. "If a third party came in with $1.2 million, we would listen."
While the Community Service Foundation wants to turn the block into a community center, another organization, the Brigham Young Academy Foundation, wants to renovate the buildings for a dinosaur museum.
Golightly said new feasibility studies are needed to "once and for all find out what will work and what won't."
Hill said the city isn't siding with either group. City officials, however, have said a dinosaur museum is the most promising proposal to come along in years.
Promoters of the museum believe they can obtain dollars to buy and renovate the buildings from corporations, individuals and philanthropies.
Provo also wants to obtain financial help from Utah County. But county commissioners said they aren't interested until a proposed project proves physically and financially feasible.
"I would need to be convinced that the public really supports it and that means putting it to a ballot," said Commissioner Gary Herbert.
Meanwhile, Provo opted not to apply for $500,000 from the Utah Department of Transportation as the dinosaur group had requested. Congress allocated $3.5 million to Utah for a highway enhancement program, which includes a provision for acquisition of historic buildings.
"I think they (UDOT) were after a finished project and we couldn't do that," said Ron Madsen, Provo redevelopment director. The renovation cost of Brigham Young Academy is unknown, but the community service foundation estimated it at $20 million.