Strasburg to negotiate agreement for use of visitor center

STRASBURG–The  Town Council voted unanimously Tuesday to negotiate an agreement with the Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation.

The Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation has sought to have a civil war museum and gift shop on property that the town is currently leasing.  Meanwhile, town officials are hoping that the site they are leasing can become a state visitor center.

Over the course of several months, town  staff members have discussed terms to allow the battlefield foundation to use the floor of the leased property for the gift shop. The staff presented a document that both they and the Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation agreed was acceptable.

Under the terms of that document town would pay to furnish and provide inventory for the visitor center. Additionally, the town will provide employee coverage and will pay for utilities.

The Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation will pay $1,650 per month to the town in order to use the floor for the events.

The decision was somewhat of a reversal of a previous agreement between the Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation and the town, according to Mayor Rich Orndorff and council members.

“We…basically flip-flopped positions with Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation,” Orndorff said. “In the past, the Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation had an agreement with the Benstein Family Foundation, and we had negotiated a [memorandum of understanding] with Cedar Creek.

During Monday’s work session, council members decided that as long as town attorney Nathan Miller had no concerns with the document, they had no reason to get involved.

The decision stemmed from a recommendation from the town staff, who are hoping that they can have the memorandum of understanding signed by July 1. Michelle Bixler, economic development and marketing manager for the town said during the work session that voting to give the staff the ability to negotiate the agreement “will allow us to just be a little bit more limber when we work with (Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation.)”

“Moving forward, we would like the flexibility to manage (the agreement) as a staff,” Bixler said.

Ultimately, Town Manager Wyatt Pearson would accept the final agreement without approval from the Strasburg Town Council.