Cedar Key Chamber petitions Crist to keep Museum

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Letter cited museum’s educational value and popularity

By Kellie Parkin

Last week the Cedar Key Chamber of Commerce petitioned Governor Charlie Crist to take Cedar Key Museum State Park off of the list of possible state park closures in a letter dated Nov. 25.

The letter cited the museum’s educational value and popularity with both residents and visitors.

“This small museum is a focus point of the community of Cedar Key. It is extremely popular with both visitors and locals alike and is excellent for teaching children about the long history of this area and also the natural history,” it stated.

The chamber is encouraging its members and others to also write letters opposing the closure.

Chamber office manager Judy Johnson said she hopes that many concerned people will contact the governor and legislators to urge reconsideration. “Make the wheel squeak,” she said. “Closing the museum is a terrible idea.”

The Division of State Parks is proposing the closure along with 18 other state parks for fiscal year 2009-10 in response to the current economic crisis. Gov. Crist asked all state departments, divisions, and agencies to provide an overall 10 percent budget reduction plan.

Currently it is unclear how much money the state of Florida would save by closing Cedar Key Museum.

In the event of closure, the buildings would remain under the supervision of a caretaker. Certain exhibits require constant temperature and humidity control, and exterior displays like the salt-water boiling pot and cannons would also need regular care. Permanent employees would be moved to nearby state parks.

During fiscal year 2007-08, more than 19,000 patrons visited the Cedar Key Museum State Park. Revenue for that time period amounted to $24,357, less than half of the park’s annual operating budget of $54,786.

“I hope to see the museum taken off that short list,” Johnson said. “This is such a small remote area, and it’s a major attraction.”