There’s no doubt that the Riverside Recreation Department needs more room. With just a minimum of office space within the old water tower pump house downtown, the Rec Department rented space wherever it could?”schools, churches, you name it.
As a result the decision to give the Rec Department more space within the building it has called home for years makes a lot of sense. And there are many, we’re sure, who won’t disagree with relegating the Riverside Historical Museum to its current home in the east well house next door while giving it marginally more room for research and exhibits in the now-available west well house.
After all, the Recreation Department visibly serves many, many more people each year than the museum. It wouldn’t be out of line to say that there are many people who view the history museum as a curiosity, if they have ever viewed it at all.
The deal recently worked out between the Parks and Historical commissions in one respect is hopeful, since it recognizes the value of history and the appropriateness of the pump house as the eventual site for the Riverside History Museum.
But while moving the Rec Department into the pump house as an interim measure looks like a great idea on its face, there’s a gnawing feeling that this is going to end up being more or less a permanent situation.
Two things are going to have to happen for the ideal solution?”a new community center for the Rec department and a pump house museum for the Historical Commission?”to happen. Money and more money.
Where is that money going to come from? Residents, of course. And who’s going to lead that charge? Residents, definitely.
In fact, Village President Harold J. Wiaduck Jr. commented Monday that he didn’t see “a strong movement afoot” to build a new community center. At this point, it doesn’t appear that a strong movement is going to originate at the board level. This is going to have to come from voters, demanding better recreational facilities and also a better and more visible museum.
While the current stop-gap solution addresses at least one of the two needs, it’s our hope that the museum’s needs won’t get buried.
If there is a commitment to the museum, it ought to be serious. What differentiates Riverside from other communities is the fact that it has a history so rich and so important that it, in fact, deserves a museum. But its current facility is woefully inadequate.
If ever a “strong movement” gains momentum to build a new community center, we would hope that it would be coupled with a desire to create the museum this village deserves. In the meantime, we are left hoping that such a movement will gain some momentum and that the deal worked out Monday does not become final.