City officials signed a two-year lease at the Sept. 1 council meeting with the Friends of the Hortense Miller Garden.
The city acquired the Allview Terrace property through a Quitclaim deed signed by Miller in 1976 that turned the property over to the city when she died. The Friends maintained it while Miller lived there and proposed to continue to operate and maintain the property with financial assistance from the city.
Miller died in 2008 at the age of 99.
“A total of $40,000 is badly needed mostly to repair the house,” City Manager Ken Frank said.
The city will contribute $20,000 toward the repairs and pay an estimated $5,000 a year for water fees and 50% of the $550 Allview Terrace fees, both already included in the city budget; insurance included in the city’s inventory; and will continue to schedule public tours.
Councilwoman Toni Iseman proposed renting the house to a caretaker to offset the costs.
However, a 1979 agreement between the city, the Allview Terrace Assn., Miller and the Friends stipulates no revenue-raising activities on the property.
In any case, the house is not ready for habitation, longtime garden Manager Marsha Bode said, although the Friends propose to include it on the garden tours and board meetings.
The Friends will match the city’s contribution toward the repairs to the house and deferred maintenance; pay the natural gas, electricity and telephone bills and 50% of the association fees; and provide docents to conduct tours. If the city decides not to operate the garden or declines to fund the maintenance, the Friends will take over the property.
Association member Wayne Wright said brush should be cleared to prevent fires.
“I lived in Allview Terrace, and I share his concerns about fire,” Mayor Pro Tem Elizabeth Pearson said.
At her request, the Fire Department is to conduct an inspection to ensure there are no hazardous issues that need to be addressed.
The city and the Friends agreed on goals for the property:
Maintain the garden for future generations
Maintain the house and the Miller library future generations
Continue public access
The 50th anniversary of the gardens is being celebrated this year.