Commissioners approve Route 66 museum

A local committee received approval from the Tucumcari City Commission to convert portions of the Tucumcari Convention Center into the New Mexico Route 66 Museum.

QCS photo: Thomas Garcia

Warren Frost shows the city commissioners a concept layout of the proposed race track and casino that if awarded to Tucumcari would be a potential home of the New Mexico Route 66 Museum.

"Having a 501(c)3 allowed us to coin that name," said Warren Frost, a member of the museum committee. "No other museum in the state will be able to have that name."

Frost said having a Route 66 museum would be a great asset for the community, and could help the city further take advantage of tourism dollars.

Frost said the museum could even be added to a proposal submitted to the New Mexico Racing Commission for a racetrack and casino. He said it would show the commission there is a greater plan in mind.

Frost said Don Chalmers and Coronado Partners, LLC., are on board with housing the museum at the race track and casino grounds. He said they offered to provide a 10,000-square-foot building at no cost.

Frost said Chalmers stressed to the group that he and the partners needed to see that the community showed an actual desire and commitment to this project — and not just a bare-bones museum with a few classic cars.

Frost said the immediate goal is to open a interim museum in the Fort Bascom and San Jon rooms at the Tucumcari Convention Center. He said the two rooms would serve as the museum and gift shop.

Commissioner Dora Salinas-McTigue asked if the committee would cover renovation costs for the two rooms, and was told that would be the case. Commissioner Jimmy Sandoval said the commission should receive progress reports.

Frost said the committee wants to pursue this project, though they do not want to step on anyone's toes. He said the city would receive 10 percent of the net proceeds from admission and gift shop sales, and the museum board would be formed with representatives from both the city and county.

Frost said he also contacted the Tucumcari Rattler Alumni Association to clear the use of the two rooms. He said the Rattler Reunion has used those rooms in the past for their reunions and the committee wanted make sure they had their approval before they proceeded.

Frost said if approved by the commission the museum would also be used as a project for the University of New Mexico's school of management. He said Vicky Watson, director of Mesalands Small Business Administration, would use the college's partnership with UNM to bring students in to work on the business plan and make sure the museum is going in the right direction.

The commission approved the use of the convention center and will draw up a lease agreement outlining the cost for the use of the building.

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