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Arts Group Alters Request

Foundation changes proposal for manner in which donation will be handled.

After learning from the Town Council that it needed to reword a request for funding from the town, the Herndon Foundation for the Cultural Arts (HFCA) has resubmitted a request to move the concept of a proposed cultural arts center into reality.

During the council's Feb. 1 work session, council members reviewed the board of directors' request that the town match, 2-to-1, part of a recent donation to the foundation.

At the end of December the foundation — created to raise funds for a cultural arts center in town — received a $50,000 donation by a Herndon resident with certain stipulations.

In the letter requesting a grant of $40,000 — written by president Melody Fetske and director and treasurer Richard Downer — it was stated the donation "be used to match funds spent by the Town of Herndon, or allocated to the HFCA, for the building evaluation, design and conversion costs of the current Hands Inc. building into an operating arts center …. This stage should include, at a minimum, a performing arts space."

The requested matching ratio was for the foundation to provide $20,000 and the town to supply $40,000 by or before 2006.

Council Member Dennis Husch said that, under the agreement signed by the town and foundation in October, the request that the town give money to the foundation breaks the agreement.

"I am really disappointed to see this come forward like this," he said. "The money is going the wrong way. If the foundation would like to get an [architectural and engineering] study done, they need to transfer money to the town."

After learning they had improperly requested funds, the board of directors modified the original request, agreeing to donate the $20,000 to the town.

Their new request is the donation be added to the existing $40,800 that, according to Mary Tuohy, director of finance, is a part of the fiscal year 2004-05 budget for a cultural arts center.

In agreeing to donate the money, the HFCA added stipulations to for its use:

* The funds are to be combined with the $40,000 currently in the town’s Cultural Arts Center CIP account.

* These funds are only to be disbursed for the furtherance of the project known as the Herndon Cultural Arts Center Project located in downtown Herndon.

* The Herndon Foundation for the Cultural Arts act as an advisor in the expenditure of these funds, as provided in the Memorandum of Understanding entered into between the foundation and the town on Oct. 7, 2004 and approved by the Town Council on Oct. 12, 2004 to be effective Oct. 13, 2004.

* That, should the town fail to spend or allocate these funds within 18 months, all unused funds from this $20,000 donation shall be returned, upon written request, to the foundation.

Although Council Member Steven Mitchell expressed concerns over monetary requests like this proposed during the mid-year budget review, saying they should focus on "house-keeping" issues, other council members applauded the foundation's request.

"I am glad to see work finally getting done," said Vice Mayor Darryl Smith. "I think we should stick to the MOU and move forward."