EDGE OF STEAMBOAT

Long-term solution needed

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— It's nerve-wracking to listen to Tread of Pioneers Museum officials talk of the possibility the museum could close by the end of the summer because of a lack of funding.

Whether it will, of course, is still up in the air; but even the thought of the museum going under is kind of scary.

A complete shutdown may not be what eventually happens if things don't change. But even a slowdown in the services the museum provides to the community would be a huge negative impact to the community, and thinking of it makes me sick to my stomach.

The weird thing is that the programs and exhibits aren't having the most serious financial problems. It's the basic operational costs, such as electric bills, that officials are having a hard time paying. That's something most museums in the state have no problem covering.

As Museum Director Mary Woodbury will tell you, most donations go toward exhibits and projects, which is great. But when it comes down to keeping the museum operating, the nonprofit agency ends up depending on its fund-raisers and the taxpayers (the city of Steamboat Springs).

When the city announced recently it is cutting the funding to the museum by $15,000, it really showed how delicate the situation is. Museum officials say that amount is enough to have a huge impact to the future role of the museum in the community.

And let's face it: That role is more than just showing exhibits. It's keeping a documented record of the historic people, places and events of Routt County that basically has made Steamboat Springs the place it is.

Right now, the city says it has money problems, and every agency receiving our tax money from the city is feeling it. But the museum needs a better solution. The community should think about how important the museum is to Steamboat Springs, because some long-term solutions need to be found.

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