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Report on Route 66: The Road Ahead workshops released

Route 66 The Road Ahead

A series of workshops convened last summer by the Route 66: The Road Ahead Initiative’s steering committee to help map out Route 66’s future. More than 300 people attended meetings held in several states.

Bill Thomas, chairman of the committee, released a final report about the workshops over the weekend. The 33-page Acrobat document may be downloaded here. It provides an overview of what the committee wants to do in the future, plus a summary of discussions by those who attended. (A more detailed look at the feedback may be viewed at this site here.)

The group’s mission is:

“To revitalize and sustain Route 66 as a national icon, for the benefit of all Route 66 communities, travelers, and busineses/attractions, through collaborative partnerships focused on promotion, preservation, research/education, and economic development.”

Readers probably are saying: Enough talk; what does the Route 66: The Road Ahead group want to do next? The answer: The report includes short-term goal over the next year or so. Here they are, verbatim:

1. Secure 501(c)(3) status for the new organization — The Steering Committee will complete and file the paperwork necessary to establish the new organization it has created as a not­‐for-‐profit entity. 501(c) will be secured by or before July 30, 2016.

2. Appoint a nominal set of Board of Directors for the new organization — This group will be identified primarily for the purpose of completing and submitting 501(c)(3) documentation. As the process moves forward, the Steering Committee will finalize appointments to the Board of Directors, including Working Group chairman. It will also work the several state Route 66 associations to identify whom each will seat on the Board of Directors.

3. Establish a National Historic Trail Designation Task Force –- This Task Force will work with the National Trust for Historic Preservation to take the steps needed to introduce legislation in Congress designating Route 66 as a National Historic Trail. Mr. John Conoboy will chair this task force.

4. Establish a Financial Sustainment Task Force – This Task Force will map out a three­‐year plan/budget for securing the funding needed to initially underwrite the new organization. Mr. Bill Kelly, Executive Director of the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway Program, will chair this task force.

The specific long-term goals of the Route 66: The Road Ahead Initiative are:

Increased Collaboration: We want to improve communication and participation among and between sectors (tourism, preservation, associations, transportation, economic and community development) to leverage their work for the benefit of the entire road.

Increased Collaboration: We want to improve communication and participation among and between sectors (tourism, preservation, associations, transportation, economic and community development) to leverage their work for the benefit of the entire road.

Purposeful Preservation: We want to purposefully preserve the historic resources (buildings, structures, sites, districts, objects, and landscapes), traditions, and experiences that give Route 66 its idiosyncratic character.

Increased Economic Vitality: We want to act as a catalyst for community and economic development by helping sustain and strengthen existing Route 66 businesses and attractions, and by helping new ones develop.

Quality Research and Education: We want to ensure that the history and stories associated with Route 66 are both accurate and accessible to the public, to researchers, and to educational institutions in order to enhance and encourage greater connection to, and understanding of, the Mother Road.

How to accomplish those long-term goals are detailed in a series of bullet points that are too numerous and long to list here.

A few thoughts about the report:

  • You ought to read the summary of the feedback about many of the proposed ideas. They reflect how these goals were shaped, and the variety of opinions give credibility that the initiative isn’t just a few people calling the shots.
  • I’m greatly encouraged the initiative is making the establishment of Route 66 as a National Historic Trail such a high priority. I explained in 2012 why such a designation would be important.
  • The genesis of the initiative was the Route 66 Economic Impact Study, which provided many specifics on Route 66 as an economic engine.
  • It’s good the Route 66: The Road Ahead Initiative is steaming along and looks to be a significant force. That’s because the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program sunsets in a few years, and I doubt it will be renewed. I suspect the initiative had that in mind when it was being formed.

If you see anything else of interest in the report, please add your voice to the comments section.

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One thought on “Report on Route 66: The Road Ahead workshops released

  1. Pingback: Final 2015 report of Route 66: The Road Ahead Initiative panel released - Route 66 News

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