City, chamber continue Welcome Center talks

City, chamber continue

Welcome Center talks

Ray Scherer

Officials with both the city of Hermann and Hermann Area Chamber of Commerce remain on track with their discussions on proposals for situating a Welcome Center.

In December, the chamber presented an offer to the city for use of the Welcome Center space in the 1906 firehouse at 150 Market St. The chamber exited the space at the end of that month, including an elimination of the volunteer services of four local women who had acted as guides and stewards for visitors to the community.

Since those actions, negotiators on both sides have deliberated the merits -- and fine points -- of the chamber's offer. An interim visitor center was established at the Amtrak station, with a special phone number created on behalf of visitor inquiries.

Mary Kunstmann, who serves as chairperson for the city-sponsored Hermann Tourism Commission, told the Advertiser-Courier she had recently spent time meeting with chamber President Gary Watts on the matter. Kunstmann said the conversation in part dealt with the commission's need to discover more details about the chamber's proposal, ahead of making any recommendation.

"Once these details are available, the process could take several months due to the normal meeting schedules of all involved," Kunstmann said. "The Commission is concerned that this might be a problem for the Chamber, especially if they have other possibilities they would like to consider for the space."

Watts indicated he understands the necessary time involved for a decision and said that he does not see that as a problem for the Chamber. He said the issues have been an ongoing topic for the chamber board. 

Kunstmann said she and Watts have also discussed which of the facilities, space, and services would be needed for a Visit Hermann information center at the 1906 firehouse. She relayed some questions the Commission utilities and maintenance.

"We also discussed the issues and logistics of managing use of a building by three entities, particular in regard to building access, security, the elevator, and restrooms," said Kunstmann, adding more research by the chamber is anticipated into those questions. The Hermann License Bureau is also located in the former firehouse.

She said the firehouse proposal is under serious consideration. 

"However, other spaces are also being evaluated, and the tradition of having just one staffed visitor center is not the only option under consideration," she added.

The direct talks between the two leaders followed a random consideration of the Welcome Center proposal by the Tourism Commission during a special Feb. 8 meeting held at City Hall and virtually.  

"This is a service to our visitors," Kunstmann said. "They just want to know where it is."