The president and treasurer of the board of the Explorium of Lexington, the city's children's museum, which has been dealing with several problems recently, have stepped down.
Explorium board president Kyle Lake and treasurer George Allgeier submitted their resignations, to be effective immediately, to city hall on Friday.
The resignations come in the wake of the forced early departure of Explorium executive director Michael Gilmore, the board's hiring of interim executive director Lee Ellen Martin and publicity about money that the museum owes to the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government.
"It was a very hard decision to leave early, but it was not going to be fair for me to stay on," Lake said Monday. He explained that his life is vastly different now than it was nearly seven years ago when he was first appointed to the board. Lake, executive producer and chief executive officer of Prosper Media Group Inc., said his company "started to get busy with work projects last year" and now "it's very difficult for me to break away."
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He said the timing of the Explorium's hunt for a new permanent executive director "opened the flood gates" for him, making him realize it was going to be almost impossible for him to deal with that, other Explorium board duties and his other obligations.
"I am confident that the state's only children's museum will be in good hands through this transition with a who's who of community leaders sitting on the board and new members in the process of joining," Lake said in his letter of resignation.
Lake, who was been the board's president for about 21/2 years, was due to step down as president at the end of June. But his term on the board was scheduled to end July 1, 2014.
Allgeier, who joined the Explorium board in November 2008 and became the treasurer in July 2010, indicated in his letter of resignation to Lexington Mayor Jim Gray that he was not happy about the board's vote to oust Gilmore last week. Allgeier defended Gilmore, with whom he grew up in Louisville.
"Mike and I have known each other for 50 years," he said.
In late January, Gilmore, who became the Explorium's executive director in mid-2008, submitted his resignation, to be effective April 29. But on Thursday, the Explorium board voted to terminate him immediately, just after board members voted to hire Martin as interim executive director. Tim Davis, chairman of the board's transition committee, has said the committee hopes to recommend a permanent executive director at the board's June meeting.
Allgeier was one of two board members who voted not to terminate Gilmore and the only board member who voted against the hiring of Martin, the wife of Urban County Council member Doug Martin. Lake abstained from voting on both issues.
"Recent actions by a majority of the members of that board have convinced me that I cannot in good conscience continue to be a part of that organization," Allgeier, a Lexington lawyer whose term on the Explorium board expires July 1, said in his resignation letter. He went on to say he thought it was important for Gray to know that Gilmore, immediately after he was hired, "brought the Explorium from the status of operating in the red to operating in the black, and this continued during his entire tenure." He said he thought the actions the majority of the board had taken were not in the best interests of the Explorium.
"We appreciate citizens who volunteer their time to their community," Susan Straub, spokeswoman for Mayor Gray, said in response to the Explorium board resignations. The mayor recommends candidates for vacancies on the Explorium board to the Urban County Council for approval. As for possible replacements for Lake and Allgeier, Straub said: "We're always encouraging interested citizens to become engaged."
Martin, in her proposal for the interim executive director position, said she would work 60 hours a month for $4,500, a rate of $75 per hour, which would come to $54,000 a year. Martin said she would not work additional hours without authorization, and that any additional hours would also be billed at the $75 per hour rate.
Gilmore was paid about $54,600 as a full-time executive director last year.
For months, the Explorium board and city officials have been working to resolve the issue of money owed the local government by the museum. Straub has said the Explorium owes the local government $291,000. She said the museum's account with the government has been frozen, making the amount still owed $194,000.
The city processed the Explorium's bills until June 2009, when the Explorium began handling its own bookkeeping. A computerized accounting program that was not fully operational from July 2006 to June 2007 played a role in the city providing the museum more money than it had budgeted for it, Straub said.
Another potential issue facing Explorium leaders concerns the museum's location. Victorian Square, which houses the museum, is for sale.