COLD SPRING- Lower Township Council passed a resolution Jan. 23 urging county Freeholders to continue to provide $150,000 per year in funding to Historic Cold Spring Village (HCSV).
The county has proposed decreasing funding to HCSV to $100,000.
Deputy Mayor Norris Clark described the village as the “Williamsburg of Cape May County and a treasure.” He said 30,000 visitors are drawn into the township annually as a result of HCSV.
Clark said HCSV has been operating for 20 years as a non-profit living history museum.
The county ceded ownership of HCSV in the early 1990's and transferred operations to the non-profit foundation that has run the museum since that time.
Clark said Anne Salvatore, HCSV executive director, did not take a salary.
She told council that she and her husband, Dr. Joseph Salvatore came before council in the 1970s requesting permission to start a living history museum. The Salvatore’s donated the village to the county in 1984.
In 1992 the county asked the Salavatore’s to take back the village and a non-profit organization was started to operate HCSV. Anne Salvatore noted the museum was more than a collection of old buildings and included trades such as a weaver and blacksmith.
She said the organization applied for grants and sponsorships. Other than the county funding, no other funding source has been stable, said Anne Salvatore.
In 2009, the county lowered its annual subsidy from $300,000 to $150,000.
“At $150,000, we are using every bit of interest from an endowment fund which was saved from the salary I never took,” said Anne Salvatore.
She said the 26 building in the village represented each of the 16 municipalities in the county.
Along with historic preservation, HCSV presents educational programs and provides heritage tourism. Anne Salvatore said HCSV was one of the first museums to provide teleconference distance learning for schools.
“We are the largest open air living history museum in the state,” she said.
“For that $150,000 we received from the county, we have given back $194,000 in free services,” continued Salvatore.
She said HCSV went into to every school in the county free of charge. Salvatore said HCSV put $497,000 back into the economy including salaries of 30 part time summer employees and by buying goods and services locally.
“For that $150,000, the freeholders are probably getting a $700,000 return on their investment,” she said.
Councilman Thomas Conrad said the request for township council to urge the freeholders to maintain the $150,000 funding level was a “no-brainer.”
“I see what Cold Spring does not just for the county but this community,” he said.
Mayor Michael Beck said the township rerouted the Bayshore Heritage Byway to increase tourism.
“We live and die as a community on bringing people to this town, it’s as simple as that,” said the mayor.
He said HCVS was a key location on the Bayshore Heritage Byway.
In a press release, Annie Salvatore stated county support and gate sales are used to match state and other granting agency awards and as a result the money awarded by the state Historical Commission fell alongside the County's contribution.
Facing cuts across the board, the organization has been forced to pull back on programming and advertising, which in turn has resulted in decreased ticket sales and revenues generated by the Country Store and Ice Cream Parlor, she said.
Now confronted with a cut of at least $50,000 to the county support, the village will again be faced with difficult decisions about programming and staffing levels, said Anne Salvatore.