The Recorder – Montague Examines the Feasibility of a Proposed Native American Culture and Heritage Center


MONTAGUE — A Boston-based cultural conservation organization has proposed a feasibility review of what could become a Native American cultural and heritage center at the former Strathmore Mill complex, the Montague Economic Development and Industrial Corp announced Wednesday. (MEDIC).

Preliminary review by Elevativ LLC would focus on four areas to determine the feasibility of such an idea, which was first discussed last summer: a site overview, project history research, a review of market context and development of project schedule. Elevativ anticipated that the full review would take eight to ten weeks, at a cost of $18,000.

Before such a review can be undertaken, however, the city would need to explore funding options and finalize its Canal District Master Plan, according to city planner Walter Ramsey.

The proposed project would preserve and restore the historic mill infrastructure that is a hallmark of Montague, likely to be based on Building 11 between 8 and 20 Canal St. – the only Strathmore Mill building deemed structurally sound enough to retain. The entire mill complex consists of former power stations that have been owned by the city for about a decade.

MEDIC members have previously pointed out that the motivation to achieve this vision is twofold: to preserve the city’s history and to contribute to reparations for indigenous peoples. The goal would be to work closely with the local tribes during the planning process and give them some level of brand agency.

Elevativ founder Elena Kazlas made it clear in an email to Ramsey and MEDIC member James Mussoni that Montague and her company share similar goals.

“Elevativ is passionate about guiding cultural projects to achieve positive socio-economic impacts within their communities,” Kazlas wrote in his email.

The organization, founded in October, builds on similar cultural preservation work. Kazlas noted that previously she had focused on “telling the Indigenous cultural story of a site” with work on the Tucson Origins Heritage Park, a 25-acre “cultural heritage campus and community” area in Arizona town. Kazlas said switching gears to complete a comparable mission in a very different setting is exciting.

“The site is wonderful,” she writes.

Within the four focus areas of the feasibility study, Elevativ hopes to assess aspects such as the historical significance of the site, storytelling potential, natural and architectural features, city investment in the site, potential economic, the next steps and an estimated budget for the following phases. of work.

So far, MEDIC has not yet signed anything regarding an agreement. Before doing so, Mussoni said, the city should request a full building assessment to confirm structural feasibility. Ramsey added that there is still some general planning to do.

“I think we need to get the master plan process in place and then have that part…as the next step,” Ramsey said.

He also said Montague should figure out how to fund the project.

“I would have to find a source of funding,” Ramsey said. “It is possible that we will find grants.”

MEDIC Chairman Richard Ruth added, regarding the cost of the $18,000 exam, “we can always bring that to the town hall.”

Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or [email protected]

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