Losing The Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Is A Big Deal For Dickinson, North Dakota

On Tuesday of this week, I read a Dickinson Press newspaper article that described North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum’s surprise announcement, that not only will the Theodore Roosevelt Museum not be built in Dickinson, but the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library is not going to be built in Dickinson either.

This was a shocking and appalling betrayal of Dickinson, because it was the people in Dickinson that began the proposal, planning, organization, and fundraising for the Theodore Roosevelt Library and Museum in the first place.  People in Dickinson have been spending a great deal of time, energy, and money on the planning, organization, design, fundraising, marketing, and publicity for the past four years.

The original planners of the Theodore Roosevelt Library, envisioned that the facility would be adjacent to Dickinson State University, on land that was already owned by either the City of Dickinson, or DSU.  A site was chosen on the former DSU rodeo grounds, right in the middle of downtown Dickinson.

I have been reading about the proposed Theodore Roosevelt Library in Dickinson for a little over one year.  I have a lot of complaints about Dickinson, which I continually write about in this blog.  I didn’t ever write about the planning of the Theodore Roosevelt Library in Dickinson until this week, because I didn’t care one way or the other.  I wondered why they wanted to have this in Dickinson, but I didn’t think that it would do any harm either by having it here.

I was aware that people in Dickinson had put a lot of work into this, and I was shocked that this got snatched away so easily by a coup or mutiny in the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation, aided and abetted by Governor Doug Burgum.

I complain and complain about Dickinson, but this Theodore Roosevelt Library would have helped Dickinson greatly.  Dickinson State University would have benefited enormously from the good publicity and positive feeling about the Library, which would have resulted in higher enrollment, increased endowment, more activities on campus, more visitors on campus, and more respectability for DSU.

The Library would have resulted in more employment opportunities for undergraduate and graduate DSU students related to their academic field here at the Library in Dickinson.  The Library would have attracted scholars and historians from elsewhere in the United States and around the World to travel to and stay in Dickinson.

Dickinson would have benefited from higher student enrollment, visiting scholars, employment for students, employment for Library staff and administrators, increased tourism, and increased endowment and importance of Dickinson State University.

This taking away of the Theodore Roosevelt Library will hurt Dickinson, but I don’t think that the hijackers know or realize what they have done.  In my previous blog post, I explained that the town of Medora, the new proposed location for the Library and Museum, has a population of less than 200 people, and the town shuts down in the Winter.

There is no readily available land or suitable location for the Library and Museum in Medora, as the town is only 0.38 square miles, and is bordered by the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  It appears as though the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation has the expectation that the Federal Government, the National Park Service, will just automatically provide land in the National Park for the Library and Museum, and pay for it, as the cost projections are now being publicized in national newspapers as $150 million.

The appropriation of Federal Land inside the National Park, and Federal Funding, will require acts of Congress.  This process could now postpone the construction of the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum for years and years.

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