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May 10, 2011 > Letter to the editor: A community museum for Milpitas

Letter to the editor: A community museum for Milpitas

The Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Resources Commission (PRCRC), after many months of study, has recommended to the Milpitas City Council, that the new Main Street Park (a working name) be a passive park. It may feature pathways, benches under shade trees, grassy areas on which to read or chat, a flower garden maintained by volunteers, and a small museum. These are all features that seem to blend well with the quiet end of Main Street.

In particular, a small museum is appropriate for the park, not only as a central repository for artifacts from our shared past, but as a place where our children can discover how different cultures came to Milpitas and contributed to making our city. Fortunately, support for a community museum is growing.

The Milpitas Historical Society has joined with the PRCRC in favor of locating a community museum in the new park. The Historical Society is considering, at no cost to the city, furnishing and staffing the museum.

The last one-room, wooden school house in the county, Laguna School, has generously been offered free to the city for use as a community museum in Main St. Park by its owner, Bill Hare (who recently won two Grammy Awards). Laguna School was built in 1865 and currently is used for storage. Its first students used the chalk board still hanging on its walls when Lincoln was president and the Civil War was raging. It might become the oldest museum structure in the South Bay if our city council agrees to accept Mr. Hare's philanthropic gift to the people of Milpitas and to invest in moving it to Main St. Park.

Right now, we have the best and cheapest chance for Milpitas - the only town in the county without a museum - to have a structure listed on both the county and state registers of historic buildings as our own community museum and to put it right next door to the finest library around. When will a better, more fiscally-sound opportunity be presented to us?

Consider the alignment of good fortune for creating a museum at this time. First, the previous use of the parkland was as a commercial business, so, the infrastructure is already in place and nearly free. Second, the building itself is free. Third, a local group could staff and maintain it for free. Fourth, there is already a parking garage just a few feet away.

To be sure, the Milpitas community museum will not be without cost, but considering that the price of a single tot lot playground can run $3 million, by not building one of those in Main St. Park, surely there could be enough funds available for a small, one-room museum given all of the other low or no cost factors in its favor.

Please join with the rest of our community to encourage our friends and neighbors on the city council to let us all have a museum of our own.

Steve Munzel

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