Drop the Taj Mahal and remodel
That old slogan of “power to the people” was given more than a rhetorical voice recently when the California State Parks Department backed off its plan to build a 10,000-square-foot lakefront museum at Donner Memorial State Park.
The decision by park officials to go back to the drawing board was spurred by hundreds of letters of protest by people from within ” and outside of ” Truckee. How the parks department will move forward is unclear. The proposal to build a brand new High Sierra Crossings Museum and supporting infrastructure isn’t entirely dead ” at least state officials haven’t declared it so. And, as far as we can tell, they don’t appear to be too keen on remodeling the current museum.
So, along with a pot of $6 million to do something, we wait for a decision.
But doing nothing, however hard some vocal Donner Lake area residents might hope, is not an option.
As we have said before in this space, Donner Memorial State Park is just that ” a state park. It is open to anyone interested enough to stop in and learn about our area and state’s history. As it stands now, the current museum and exhibits are more than 40 years old. Try telling a new generation of kids raised in a hi-tech world about a fascinating point in this country’s history using props and films four-decades old: boring, stale, irrelevant.
Between June and September, an average of 340 people visit the current museum each day, according to the parks department. Annually, nearly 90,000 people stop to learn a little about our local history.
It’s safe to say that any business around Donner Lake or in Truckee would love to have more than 300 people come through its doors each day as long as such traffic wasn’t ruining neighbors’ quality of life.
What needs to be done is for residents to acknowledge there is a need for a new museum. What parks officials need to acknowledge is that they probably don’t need to build the Taj Mahal.
We are heartened by the hundreds of people in our community who exercised their power regarding the proposed museum. At the same time, we can’t ignore the 80,800 people who’ve voted with their feet.