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Tue, Oct. 15

Kingman council discuss role of Powerhouse

Funding and management of the Powerhouse Visitor Center depends upon how the Kingman City Council wants to best use the building, city manager Roger Swenson said.

The Powerhouse Gang deeded the visitor center property to Kingman on Jan.

1 after completion of renovation projects.

The building is located at 120 W.

Andy Devine Ave.

"The recommendation is to emphasize the local tourist information center, expand the gift shop operated by the Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona and provide historical displays in addition to the Route 66 museum," Swenson said.

He said the Powerhouse would be the gateway to Route 66 and Kingman attractions.

Signs would emphasize Route 66 rather than the Powerhouse, he added, because tourists identify with Route 66 and have little idea of the historical significance of the Powerhouse name.

During a budget meeting Thursday, the City Council discussed the competition with city businesses by shops in the Powerhouse and the restaurant.

"The city should not be in food, gifts and merchandise competition with local businesses," Councilman Jim Baker said.

"We want tourists to stop at other places in Kingman for food and shopping."

Mayor Les Byram said, "All historical structures across the United States have some level of refreshments for tourists use.

The larger ones have full restaurants."

Councilwoman Monica Gates said people who stop at a tourist attraction expect refreshments and restrooms.

"Refreshments are essential to give bus drivers a reason to stop," she said.

The financing and management of the Route 66 Museum also became a city responsibility when the city accepted the deed.

"We knew that could happen when we signed for and accepted the grants to renovate the Powerhouse," Councilman Dave French said.

Swenson has begun talking with officials from the Mohave Museum of History and Arts to see whether they would manage the Route 66 Museum.

He said the museum staff has the expertise and means to catalog and care for artifacts.

The proposed city budget for fiscal 2004 sets aside $40,000 through the room tax revenue fund to finance the Route 66 Museum operation.

"Federal and state highway officials were impressed with the museum," Byram said.

"They said visiting the museum is worth the trip to Kingman."

The museum was funded with state and federal grants.

City staff has talked with leaseholders who have business ventures within the Powerhouse about renewals.

Councilman Frank McVey said at least one of the current business operators would like to move out of the Powerhouse.

Swenson said the decision-making process about city goals for the visitor center will take at least six months.

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