SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - As lawmakers face a $750 million budget shortfall next fiscal year, a big cut to the state's tourism budget is on the table. That cut puts not one, but two Shreveport museums in jeopardy of closing.
The McNeil Street Pumping station was built in 1887. It was privately owned then, but was taken over by the City of Shreveport in 1917. All of the equipment in it was considered state of the art, but as the years went by that would change.
"It became unusual, and all of the steam powered equipment that moved the water became obsolete," said Dale Ward who volunteers at the museum.
But that would be just fine for the soon to be museum because now the equipment inside was considered rare.
"It was named a national historic landmark in 1983, and a national historic civil engineering landmark," said Ward.
But with this year's state budget cuts Shreveport may soon lose all of this history.
"The Secretary of State has proposed closing all of these museums except one. That includes this one," Ward said.
The Secretary of State's Office says they don't want to close the museums, but it is an option that has to be considered given the budget cuts that not only affects their office, but the entire state. They are also fighting for more money to keep these museums operating, and are hopeful they could be approved to do it.
Ward recognizes and understands the state has to make cuts somewhere. He just hopes they will be smarter about it.
"They spent $50,000 here last year. They would have to close 18,000 water works museums to fill the gap. So if you've got a big problem you need to go where the big dollars are, and not throw away a national treasure."
The feeling is mutual with Downtown Development Authority Director Liz Swaine who questions the idea of closing these museums.
"What does it do for you, really? It saves you a meager amount of money in the over all scheme of things, and then it kills all of your amenities for your tourists, and residents. Is that really how we want our state to be structured?" She said.
She is working with Representative Cedric Glover who drafted a bill to move both the Water Works and Spring Street Museums from the Secretary of State's Office to the Lieutenant Governor's Office which they say just might save them. Although that department is also facing budget cuts where some state parks are being considered for closure.
"That makes sense because the Lieutenant Governor is over culture, recreation, and tourism. All of which museums are," said Swaine.
Representative Glover said, Tuesday afternoon, the bill to move the two museums to the Lieutenant Governor's Office will be turned in Tuesday evening.
On Saturday, May 7, the Water Works Museum is holding "Food Trucks at the Museum" in coordination with Downtown Development Authority. There will be several food trucks, live music, and tours of the museum from 11:00am - 3:00pm.