Note: This letter was sent to Oak Ridge City Council members before the Monday evening vote on a property transfer resolution related to Main Street Oak Ridge and American Museum of Science and Energy.
Members of Oak Ridge City Council:
I have several questions regarding the proposed transfer of the American Museum of Science and Energy (AMSE) land and surrounding property to the newest mall developers. My questions arise from 45 years of tax-paying residency in Oak Ridge, and decades of hearing many eventually broken promises about mall redevelopment.
(1) What will happen to the Museum? The AMSE has been a showcase (somewhat faded in recent years due to DOE neglect) for Oak Ridge’s proud history. With the advent of the Manhattan Project National Park, its significance would seem to be enhanced. It will take years for the National Park Service to finalize its plans and perhaps develop a local headquarters for the park, and so the Museum would appear to be especially important now. If the mall developers do take possession, will the Museum simply be bulldozed, in the hope of attracting more retail establishments? Given the city’s previous experience with organized retail development, I can easily imagine a large pile of bare dirt sitting undisturbed for decades, perhaps with an abandoned rusty earthmover on top, where we once had a monument to our history and scientific leadership, and a resource for teachers and tourists. [Read more…]