OUR VIEW: Presidential Library Foundation Board has much to consider
This week the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation unanimous voted to empower its leadership to look into alternative sites for the library.
The vote was in response to a potential new large donor who looked favorably on alternative sites including a Badlands site and not the man made site that was to have been built on Dickinson State University. The cost to build and maintain a quality presidential library for Roosevelt had an estimated price up to $150 million.
To solicit that much money the board had, at its inception, recognized that a project of this size could not be funded by our state alone. They had identified so called "Ted Heads" from around the nation who along with a deep admiration of our nation's 26th president had the necessary deep pockets to fund the project. Now that one has stepped forward to make a possible large contribution we can hardly blame the foundation for looking at all site options again.
The board has many things to consider before choosing an alternative site including the history of the proposed library and Dickinson State University. What started 10 years ago as an $8 million renovation of Dickinson State University's Stoxen Library and a home for the Theodore Roosevelt Center's project to digitize all the written words of Roosevelt morphed into a $150 million presidential library that could be located anywhere but at DSU?
The foundation must weigh the amount of money pledged by the new donor against the possibility of losing the money pledged by the city of Dickinson and the State of North Dakota. Building the library at a Badlands location closer to the site of Roosevelt's Elkhorn Ranch and in the National Park that bears his name would have its share of advantages and challenges.
Theodore Roosevelt Park is isolated and because of its climate is largely a seasonal attraction. Building the Library in the park would probably do little to attract winter visitors, but obviously there is something nostalgic the park location.
Building the library in Dickinson may allow for more local visitors and programs with the city and the university. This newspaper has previously endorsed building the Library and favored the location on Dickinson State University but recognize that giving the alternative of no library or having a library built in a Badland location we could appreciate the logic of a new site.
We at the paper also believe the city should reconsider if the benefits to Dickinson of having the library located in the Badlands would still warrant their pledged monies.