BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - Controversy has erupted in Bay St. Louis over a proposed art museum.
The son of the late folk artist Alice Moseley has asked the city to make space available, at no charge, inside of the city's historic train depot to showcase and sell his mother's prints and paintings. He said the trade off would be the tourists the museum would bring to town. But as WLOX News found out, not all city leaders are behind the idea.
Alice Moseley was well known locally, regionally and had even generated some international acclaim. She died in 2005 at the age of 94. When she was alive, she attracted hundreds of tourists to her home and gallery in Bay St. Louis.
Her son, Tim, and many others say the Moseley legacy and popularity can be resurrected inside of the city's historic train depot.
"Alice Moseley is a big tourism draw," said Moseley.
"I think it's very important that Bay St. Louis, as a art loving community, embraces what they have in their midst to share with the world," said museum supporter Geri Bleau.
Moseley said space is all he needs. Financially, the museum would take care of itself. He's offered some incentives to ensure that.
"What I'm proposing is to give the board of the museum title to the Bookter Street house. I have a vacation rental on State Street. I've got 50 original Alice Moseley prints and paintings, then the balance of my estate will come to the museum board when I'm gone."
The city has made space available in city buildings to various organizations in the past free of charge.
Bay St. Louis Mayor Les Fillingame said, "We provide housing for the chamber for tourism. We also provide space for the Boys and Girls Clubs for the senior citizens and all the organizations that just provide a tremendous need."
Mayor Fillingame is behind the idea, but not all city leaders agree.
Councilman at Large Bill Taylor said, "My vote would be to lease it to them. Like we do with the young lady that is leasing the old city hall building for her restaurant. I think we just need to be consistent and find out what the market value of it is and charge what ever it is."
"I just think that the benefits of having it in the Depot would greatly out weigh any kind of rental income that would be generated from it," said Fillingame.
Moseley said he plans to launch a major campaign designed at generating community support for the idea. The issue is expected to be discussed at the city's October 16th council meeting.
City leaders say the issue could be brought to a vote during that city council meeting.