By Maggie Lee
A group of Sandy Springs vehicle aficionados hoped they had found the money to build a transportation museum and a hub for all things automotive, but it turns out they could have jammed up plans for the city’s other transportation-related projects.
The money in question would come from a so-called federal Transportation Enhancement grant pool. However, unbeknownst to the Sandy Springs museum group, the city applied for the same grant money.
The city would like that grant money to spruce up streetscapes on Roswell Road and Morgan Falls Road.
Oliver Porter, one of the main boosters of the museum – and a founding father of Sandy Springs – canceled a plan to ask the City Council in December for an endorsement of the would-be museum’s grant application.
He decided not to step on any toes.
“It’s my responsibility now to ask to withdraw our request for your support,” he said to the council Dec. 7. “It’s never been our desire to compete with the city in any way.”
But just because the group may have lost out on this round of funding, Porter was still politicking for the future.
“I do ask you to continue to support us in ways that do not require the city’s money or taxpayer dollars,” he said.
Porter and his colleagues envision more than a museum. They see it as a hub for motoring education, traveling exhibits, car shows, maybe even a home for Atlanta-metro area car clubs, major auctions or a place for companies to show off new prototypes.
It can’t be a place where visitors just walk around cars and never visit again, Oliver said, “it would be interactive, educational, draw you back.”
Oliver and key allies make up the founding board of a nonprofit organization called Sandy Springs Unique Vehicles. The organization has succeeded in drafting an operating budget and drawn preliminary designs for a facility. By studying other museums, they’ve figured how to start up financially – to a point, Oliver said.
“All of them tell us what you have to have to get started is a sugar daddy to get the property and the cars. We don’t have that,” Oliver said.
Though this federal grant won’t be a sugar daddy, the nonprofit is far from giving up. They’ve long been networking with business leaders and will continue to canvass the local scene for private financial support. Oliver said that some “encouraging developments” exist.
It has to be a Sandy Springs museum, and a “quality draw” to the city. Oliver continued, “If we don’t get the right kind of property then we will not do this because we do not want to do anything second-rate.”
The nonprofit’s boosters have their eyes on a site they would like to acquire, but they aren’t saying where. And they say that the museum would be located in Sandy Springs or nowhere.
Mayor Eva Galambos, for her part, lent support to the group’s plan.
“Look at those museums in Cartersville,” she said, referring to the Tellus Science Museum and the Booth Western Art Museum. “That town has gotten so much economic development because of those two attractions … having a good museum would be a huge plus.”