History to be a part of downtown vision

By: Stephanie Dumm News Messenger Reporter
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The Carnegie Library and Lincoln Area Archives Museum will not be left out of downtown Lincoln’s future plans, although it feels that way to some community leaders. The city paid Gruen, Gruen + Associates $30,000 to study the downtown area and provide an action plan “to be implemented by the business community prior to and with the opening of the Highway 65 bypass,” according to a July 27 city staff report, which was prepared by economic and redevelopment manager Steve Art. Shirley Russell, who is volunteer executive director for the Lincoln Area Archives Museum and heavily involved with Lincoln’s libraries, said Gruen, Gruen + Associates didn’t visit the museum during the study. “They didn’t come talk to me individually nor did they come over and look at the Archives,” Russell said. “I think a big hole was left out. While I’m not a business person, per se, I’m looking to what we could do for downtown Lincoln.” The News Messenger asked Art if the consulting firm talked to Russell and if they visited the library and museum as part of the study. The two venues are across the street from each other on Fifth Street. “They didn’t talk to every business owner,” Art said. “They didn’t purposely ignore the library and they didn’t hit every single business.” When asked if the historic aspect of Lincoln will be included in planning for downtown Lincoln, Art said “that will be a part of it.” “I think they are an important part of the downtown,” Art said. “They area vital part and have a historical perspective of where Lincoln came from.” Both the Carnegie Library and Lincoln Area Archives Museum could be a draw for the city, according to Russell, and both locations “have a stake in this.” Russell said the Carnegie Library could be a research and resource library, and the summer’s Books on the Courtyard program could be a “four-week celebration on literacy,” with coupons for downtown merchants passed out during the program. Lincoln has “a lot of history,” according to Russell, which includes “Native Americans, gold fields and granite quarries.” “The history of this area is much richer than most towns and the fact that there are so many families that are fourth and fifth generations,” Russell said. Moving the archives museum into the former police station is an idea Russell had. “I would love to have the archives on the plaza and have all kinds of things on the plaza so that people would want to come downtown,” Russell said. “There’s potential downtown that’s being ignored.”