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Butler Art expansion delays frustrate director

YOUNGSTOWN — The head of the Butler Institute of American Art said he’s “frustrated” with delays in getting started on a $1.8 million multi-story addition that would add much-needed storage space and a display area for some of the museum’s larger pieces.

“I’m in a quandary about it,” said Louis A. Zona, Butler’s executive director. “We wanted to get started months ago, but we can’t get moving.”

The matter, however, could be resolved as soon as early next month.

The issue is the Butler needed a piece of property owned by Youngstown State University to build what will be called the Bacon Wing, in front of the museum’s Beecher Center for Art and Technology. The facility will be named after the Bacons, a local family that has been actively involved in numerous area nonprofits for several years, Zona said.

The Butler received approval for the project March 9 from the city’s design review committee and forwarded the proposal to YSU for a property swap.

The YSU Board of Trustees meets quarterly — in March, June, September and December, said Ron Cole, the university’s spokesman.

At the board’s June 3 meeting, the trustees agreed to authorize the university to exchange 5,858 square feet needed by the Butler in exchange for three parcels, totaling 5,846 square feet, that the Butler owns that YSU often uses for 11 parking spaces, Cole said.

“It passed the one hurdle,” Zona said.

The land transfer also needs approval from the State Controlling Board.

The board has received the request from YSU and will review it at its next meeting, Aug. 2, said Pete LuPiba, spokesman for the Ohio Office of Budget and Management.

The board could vote to approve the proposal at that meeting, he said.

Davis International Inc. of Youngstown, “our builder, said construction will take six to eight months once we get the approval,” Zona said. “It’s frustrating having to wait. We want to get started. The last couple of months were perfect building weather. It’s an important part of our physical plant. It will be a nice addition to have large works with lots of storage space, which we’re in dire need of.”

In hindsight, Zona said the structure should have been built on ground not owned by YSU, “but it’s too late.”

The wing will be built near Beecher Center and include a large second-floor window to allow people to see some of the art without going inside.

The addition would be two floors above ground and two below and face Wick Avenue.

The Butler built the 19,000-square-foot Beecher Center in 2000 in collaboration with YSU.

dskolnick@vindy.com

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