Viewpoint: Closing Riordan Mansion State Historic Park would hurt Flagstaff

[Source: Gwen Groth, Arizona Daily Sun “Letter to the Editor”] — Riordan Mansion State Historic Park remains at risk of closing due to Arizona’s grave budget crisis.  Funds have already been swept from Arizona State Parks and more will be requested.  Shuttering Riordan Mansion State Historic Park goes much further than closing a nice picnic area with a pretty house as a backdrop.  Three part-time employees have already lost their jobs at Riordan Mansion and if the park closes, four full-time employees will lose their jobs as well.  Flagstaff stands to lose nearly 30,000 visitors annually who pause to have lunch, stay in a hotel and visit other attractions.

The “mansion” does not tell the story of a wealthy family.  Instead, the energy-efficient home tells the story of Flagstaff’s beginning and one family who worked hard to build a business and a community.  The Riordans were instrumental in the development of Flagstaff’s infrastructure, education and environmental preservation.  The family donated their home to Arizona so that the legacy of giving could continue through the education of visitors for decades to come.

The state park offers more than a guided tour, museum and beautiful grounds.  Area schools use Riordan Mansion as a hands-on (and affordable) means to teach students about our history.  The park also holds lectures twice monthly that are free, informative and open to the public.  Budget cuts are painful, especially where education is concerned.  Though closing Riordan is not a direct hit to our education system, it is an indirect strike that will hurt Flagstaff in many ways.

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