City leaders captured an $826,000 state grant targeted to purchase the building previously housing the Inland Seas Maritime Museum.
Museum operators committed moving to Toledo for expansion reasons.
In the past couple of years, officials launched a fundraising campaign to buy the building — a 2.3-acre waterfront site on Main Street.
The $826,000 represents about half of the $1.65 million needed before Dec. 31 so the city can outright own the land.
Karen and Larry Bettcher donated $200,000 to help officials buy the option to purchase the property. The option ends once 2014 arrives.
Erie MetroParks additionally contributed about $25,000 recently. The donation marks a continued MetroParks presence in Vermilion.
In 2011, park officials acquired their first property in Vermilion. Dubbed the Wakefield Property, this 1.6-acre site borders the Vermilion River near the city’s downtown area. It’s considered a passive park area, where people can walk on the sand, take a swim in the water or sit down to enjoy a sunset.
It’s unknown exactly what officials will do with the property, even if they secure all necessary funding.
One idea proposed included sculpting the property into a fishing museum.
Others revolve around connecting the Wakefield Property to the museum, streamlining shoreline space for those seeking to walk through a connected property.
“We are very excited about our grant for the maritime museum,” Vermilion Mayor Eileen Bulan said. “We will continue to fundraise this year.”