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Route 66 News

Opposition to museum tax proposal goes to Facebook

Less than a week ago, the city council of Joplin, Mo., voted to put a tax referendum on the April ballot to fund a move and expansion of the Joplin Museum Complex to Memorial Hall.

Already, the opposition to the one-sixth-cent sales tax has organized on the Internet, with a “Save Memorial Hall” group on Facebook, according to the Joplin Globe. (Although the title of the group makes it sound as if Memorial Hall would go the way of the wrecking ball, which it is not under the proposal.)

As of Monday night, 219 people have joined the group, including two city council candidates, Kelly Maddy and Erik Wright, reported the Globe.

Maddy said he is not opposed to relocating the museum, but he does not support the current proposal because he believes the hall should remain as it as, a memorial to veterans, and that options for museum relocation should have been studied by the council. […]

“I’m very much in favor of the museum finding a great location and having the museum downtown,” Wright said, “but there’s a bunch of questions that went unanswered. The City Council voted on this very quickly, and there’s a lot of concerns as to what are they going to do for venues, events, and the fact that we would be losing Memorial Hall.”

Of course, not everyone is against the proposal …

Allen Shirley, president of the Friends of the Museum, said some people who initially were against the proposal based on what they heard from others have given the plan reconsideration after hearing a complete presentation.

“We’ve not had a chance to present our plan to the public yet,” Shirley said. “That is what we are in the process of doing now, setting up opportunities with veteran groups and organizations to express the facts involving our plan. …

“We have between now and April to get our message out, and we will be working with various members of our organization with groups to give them straight information and, maybe just as importantly, to answer questions.”

Perhaps the museum’s education efforts will bear fruit come the April election. But it sounds like the opposition has gotten a head start.

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One thought on “Opposition to museum tax proposal goes to Facebook

  1. Rod Harsh

    As a Joplin native and avid Route 66 roadie, I know that Joplin museum curator Brad Belk has expressed concern about declining visitor traffic at the present location, due in part to a lack of good, readable signage on 7th. Street (Route 66), needed to direct visitor traffic to the museum that sits in the middle of Shiffendecker Park. Mr. Belk originally had discussed a move to the I-44 area near south Rangeline Road, so this Memorial Hall move must be a new option.

    I personally thought the Museum would do well in a “restored” Union Depot train station in the downtown area near the convergence point of the 1926 and 1937 routes of 66, but the city says the depot is unsalvagable.

    Not much of any consequence is happening in Memorial Hall anymore because it is too small for many venues, and has sloped auditorium-style floors and fixed seats. I also don’t know where they would put all of the indoor (and outdoor) exhibits located at the present museum.

    Since the Hall is located on the original (and 2 alternates) of Route 66, and is in downtown Joplin, I would be in favor of the move IF the museum were to incorporate a Route 66 Welcome Visitors Center, toning down the emphasis on mining while increasing Veteran & Route 66 related exhibits and themes, and encourage the use of it’s parking lot for free visitor (and RV) parking, car shows and other Route 66 events.

    Most residents I know feel that while mining did kick-start Joplin, it left a legacy of abandoned mines, flooding problems and lead pollution. After the mines were closed in the 20’s, it was Route 66 that kept the community thriving as a transportation hub during the great depression and beyond. Sadly, Joplin forgot about it’s Mother Road heritage until just recently. Hopefully, with a re-directed emphasis on Route 66 and less on mining, a Memorial Hall museum could attract many more locals and travelers, and that could be a real shot-in-the-arm for downtown merchants and Joplin as a whole.

    Heritage tourism and commerce is growing in communities all along Route 66, and Joplin needs to give those visitors a reason to stop here for a closer look.

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