The Norman Transcript

Opinion

March 20, 2014

Let’s finish the museum

NORMAN — We hope that we can count Norman area state House members among the legislative supporters of the bill to complete the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum.

The state Senate has already approved a bill to draw down $40 million from the state’s unclaimed property fund to complete the 173,000-square-foot museum sitting unfinished along the North Canadian River at the crossroads of Interstate 35 and I-40 in Oklahoma City.

Construction on the long-promised center stopped in summer 2012 when the project ran out of money. If the state’s money comes through, proponents expect the building to be complete and open to the public by 2017.

That $40 million state money would be mixed with $40 million in private and public pledges. The state, tribes and other contributors have spent about $91 million to date and is now spending $68,000 a month just to keep the pigeons out and the site secure.

Lawmakers have been reluctant for the state to take on any more debt. Taking money from the unclaimed property fund is not the best solution, but it appears to be one that many House members can swallow.

As it is, the vacant, enormous shell of a building is an embarrassment to Oklahoma and a major-league slight to the 39 recognized tribes that call the state home.

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