Private donors have given backers of the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum until the end of the month to come up with a plan to keep the project alive.
Native American Cultural and Educational Authority Executive Director Blake Wade tells The Journal Record that he's met with Oklahoma City Council members to discuss the city assuming control of the project. Oklahoma City Manager Jim Couch confirmed the city is meeting with museum officials but says talks are still preliminary.
“Ten days ago we thought the state was going to finish it,” Couch said. “But if the state isn’t going to do it, it’s incumbent upon us to look at the options.”
Before any decision is made, Couch said, city officials would have to do a great deal of due diligence.
“We would have to ask a lot of questions,” he said.
Museum backers had hoped to secure $40 million in state funding from the Legislature this year, but the measure never made it out of the House of Representatives. Wade says museum backers are doing everything they can to find a way to fund the project.
Two years ago, museum supporters approached representatives from the Commissioners of the Land Office about investing in the project. The CLO, a state entity that leases public land to generate revenue for schools, passed on the investment after a property appraisal showed that the value of the land for the center didn’t exceed the $40 million threshold.
“We were approached a little more than two years ago,” said Terri Watkins, spokeswoman for the CLO. “But the appraisal of the land wasn’t anywhere close to $40 million.”
However, records show that other state entities, such as the Oklahoma State Education Employees Group Insurance Board and the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust, could invest in the project.
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