By Kelcy Faimalo
USU Eastern hopes to revitalize and increase overall tourism in downtown Price with a newly proposed Prehistoric Museum.
In a recent special county commission meeting, USU Eastern Chancellor Joe Peterson and museum director Ken Carpenter sat down with county officials to lay out their vision for the new museum.
The new addition is estimated to cost approximately $20 million, about one third of a $60 million dollar long-term campaign to construct a Center for Energy that will combine the college’s skilled trade programs with research and development efforts at Utah State University.
According to Peterson, about $1 million in funding has already been donated by the state and local community members Tony Basso and Marc Bingham. Peterson said additional funding can come from entities such as the Permanent Community Impact Board and the Recreational/Transportation Special Service District as well as the Utah State Legislature and additional donations from community members.
“The name of the game, in my opinion, is being able to have more CIB funds than originate from our area and lots of community support,” Peterson said. “I believe that we, as community builders, can put together a strategy to do that.”
The current prehistoric museum has exhausted its available storage space and, according to information provided by USU Eastern, expansion on the current property is not feasible because of a major power line that bisects the property.
A new prehistoric museum would serve an audience of more than 165,000, drawing in tourists from all over the United States. According to statistics provided by the college, 29% of visitors who came to see the museum in 2014 stayed in a hotel, 24% stayed an extra night or bought a meal as a direct result of the museum and visitor expenditures exceeded $280,000. That was money introduced directly to the local economy last year.
As technology advances, a new state-of-the-art museum will remain captivating and important not only for local community members, but for visitors of all ages who will return again and again for years to come.
If built, the new museum would be located where the old Central School used to stand.