Our View: So far so good on new Donner museum plan
November 17, 2005
Earlier this month we reported that California State Parks officials had decided to locate their new High Sierra Crossings Museum away from Donner Lake’s east shore.The new plan for the 10,000-square-foot museum, which will again go through the public comment process, drops another of the old plan’s misguided ideas – a new road into Donner Memorial State Park.So far so good. Building on the shore of Donner Lake and a new entry into the park off of Donner Pass Road were just two of the flaws in the original plan that spurred hundreds of letters of protest to be sent to park planners.But the location of the proposed museum wasn’t the only problem some folks had with the plan; more than a few people said a new building wasn’t necessary. That is, in our opinion, wrong. The photo that accompanied our Nov. 2 story on the new proposal illustrated why. Dozens of school children from Reno were gathered at the museum listening intently to a park ranger who was recounting the incredible story of the Donner Party. And in doing so, telling our local story and the story of the state of California.A new museum with state-of-the-art exhibits and displays will help recount that part of our history – and much more – to new generations of students who can surely spot the yellow around the edges at the current museum.And it’s not just students who visit museum. As we’ve written before, between June and September of 2004, an average of 340 people visited the current museum each day, according to the parks department. Annually, nearly 90,000 people stop to learn a little about our local history.Those numbers tell us that the $6 million investment in a new museum is worth it. Who knows, maybe a shiny new attraction will bring in even more people – something that would surely benefit Truckee businesses in general.All that said, however, we as a community shouldn’t leave the planning entirely to state officials. The energy that went into opposing the initial museum plan should be mustered again and directed into making the new plan the best it can be.