Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Museum Pulls out of Deal to Fund Trolley; $1 Million Pledge May Be Renewed Once Commissioners Review It

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Museum Pulls out of Deal to Fund Trolley; $1 Million Pledge May Be Renewed Once Commissioners Review It

Article excerpt

ST. LOUIS - The Missouri History Museum has withdrawn a $1 million pledge to help fund a trolley line that is planned to run from the Delmar Loop to Forest Park.

History Museum trustees initially approved the donation even though the museum and the nonprofit Loop Trolley Co. are headed by the same person: Robert Archibald.

The museum withdrew the pledge this week.

The museum has been under fire recently for a land deal involving a former mayor and for complaints that a board charged with overseeing the organization is not involved in key decisions.

Archibald and Ray Stranghoener, chair of the museum's board of trustees, declined to answer questions Friday about the pledge but released a joint statement.

The museum decided to "re-consider its pledge" because it hadn't "adequately communicated" the move to a separate, 10-member board of commissioners, the statement said.

"Once we have clarification on how the (board of commissioners) views our pledge to the Loop Trolley Project, we hope we are in a position to restore it," the statement said.

It also said the museum supports investing in the trolley because it "will stop right at our door and connect us to the rest of the region."

The museum has two different boards. The board of commissioners, with members approved by St. Louis County and city officials, is supposed to oversee the tax money that the museum receives. The museum last year received about $10 million of its $16.8 million budget from the tax on city and county residents that funds St. Louis' cultural institutions.

But the commissioners years ago largely ceded its responsibilities and took a back seat to a nonprofit arm with its own board of trustees.

Former commissioners interviewed by the Post-Dispatch have said they were largely out of the loop on big decisions, not learning about purchases until after they were made and not seeing the museum budget until after the fiscal year had begun.

The museum has also come under fire for the 2006 purchase of a one-acre parcel on Delmar Boulevard owned by former Mayor Freeman Bosley Jr. The museum spent $875,000 to buy the land and at least $100,000 more in additional expenses. …

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