The Scotts Bluff County Commissioners have approved allocating up to $50,000 so the former Japanese Hall building can be relocated from near downtown Scottsbluff to the Legacy of the Plains Museum.
Tourism Director Brenda Leisy told commissioners how the money from the county’s lodging tax fund would help area tourism, which she noted is about 90% history-related. “And this obviously fits right in with what people want to see,” said Leisy. “They want to take a section of land out there (at the museum) and put the Japanese Hall there, and turn it into a building where artifacts and different mementos from the (local) Japanese history will be stored.”
The Japanese Hall History Project group is in the midst of a $210,000 fundraiser to pay for the move, and Leisy told the board it is possible they could raise the entire amount needed by November 1. The land the building is currently sitting on was sold in 2017.
Commissioner Charlie Knapper objected to the funding, saying he felt the Board could wait until closer to that deadline to decide whether or not the County should provide any funding for the project. “I think maybe we could do some approval of a lesser amount of money to help with the renovation when it gets to the Legacy of the Plains,” said Knapper. “Right now, what I see is, we’re clearing a lot for a business owner that wants a parking lot. I don’t know if that’s the best use of the lodging tax.”
After Knapper voiced his concerns, the board approved the funding by a 3 to 2 margin.