6th Cavalry facility may move to Fort Oglethorpe gymnasium

6th Cavalry facility may move to Fort Oglethorpe gymnasium

August 18th, 2011 by Andy Johns in News

The building that now houses Tootie's Treasures, a former gymnasium, may be purchased by Catoosa County to house the 6th Cavalry Museum in Fort Oglethorpe.

Photo by Angela Lewis /Times Free Press.

The 6th Cavalry could be on the move.

Catoosa County commissioners voted Tuesday to set aside money to explore buying the 107-year-old gymnasium in Fort Oglethorpe and moving the 6th Cavalry Museum to the building.

Catoosa County already had pledged $150,000 from the special purpose local option sales tax to retrofit the current museum. Its home, the former health department building on Barnhardt Circle, needs work to bring bathrooms and entryways up to code for wheelchair accessibility.

Officials say the $150,000 for the renovations could be applied instead to the purchase, so commissioners voted to approve a maximum of $200,000 in additional SPOST funding. Commissioner Ken Marks said the money would be less if the appraisal comes in under $350,000.

Commissioner Jim Cutler was the lone dissenting vote.

"I'm not against historical [spending], I'm just trying to hold money back for Ringgold and Graysville," he said. Cutler's district encompasses both of those areas.

He said the county wasn't committing to spend any money, but merely was setting it aside while the opportunity was explored.

"There's a lot of ifs," he said.

Fort Oglethorpe Mayor Lynn Long has championed the LaFayette Road area along U.S. Highway 27 south of Battlefield Parkway for redevelopment, but said no one from the city was consulted about the county's plan. He said he has plenty of questions about the building's maintenance and the museum's moving expenses.

"We had no idea that that was going to happen," he said. "Whose building is it going to be?"

Long and Marks both are running for mayor, and both have said they would work to bring economic development to the city.

Museum Director Chris McKeever said she had been eyeing the former gym, which now houses a consignment shop named Tootie's Treasures, for years. While planning the renovations, McKeever approached owner Judy O'Neal to see if she had any interest in selling.

"That location would be excellent," McKeever said of the 10,000-square-foot building. "Any time you're on the major road where everyone is traveling, it's a good idea."

The new location would provide frontage on LaFayette Road, and the building already meets accessibility standards, according to O'Neal and McKeever.

O'Neal, who also owns UCTV, said she wasn't looking to unload the property but would sell it to the county or city for the museum for $350,000.

"I would like to see that part of the town revitalized, and I think that would be a start for them," she said. O'Neal said the 8-year-old consignment shop would move to a new location.

Marks said he expects the commission to be able to take action on the property at its first meeting in September.