The Arts, Parks, Health and Aging commission took nearly two hours worth of public comments this afternoon in regards to the Autry's proposed $6.6 million expansion of their Griffith Park campus.
For a roundup of the meeting, click .
Here is a sample of what the supporters of the Autry expansion had to say. for comments from those who oppose the expansion plan.
The [Autry National Center] has considered seriously all the potential uses for the  site and has made an informed decision for its future. We indeed hire architect Brenda Levin in 2003 to conduct a study of the southwest museum site to see what it would take to maintain the location as a fully functioning museum. The cost far outweighed the benefit--over $21 million in 2003 dollars just to bring the building up to code. In the ensuing Autry master plan published in 2006, the opinion was that the facility could not function in the 21st century as an accredited fully functioning museum. The Autry board accepted this decision. The board decided that a mixed use of the building would be ideal. Since then, Autry representatives have met with Occidental College, with Nicole Possert of the [Friends of the Southwest Museum Coalition] and Councilman [José] Huizar [(CD14)]to discuss the future vision of the Southwest Museum as a mixed use educational or community facility housing Native American archaeological or museum studies classes. -- Joan Cumming, Senior Director Marketing and Communications at Autry National Center for the American West
I joined the Southwest Museum in 1998 and managed the historic campus for more than 12 years. My message for you this morning is this; the Southwest Museum does not work in the 21st century as a fully functioning museum. The historic building is far too small and inflexible to display the immense and beautiful collection. Major renovations are needed. Temperature and humidity control, fire/life safety and HVAC systems that are needed are cost prohibitive and would compromise the historical integrity of the building. The Autry master plan dated May, 2006 states that upgrading the entire Southwest Museum infrastructure to museum standards is not contemplated due to technical and financial limitations. No one knows that building better than I, no one loves and is committed to that building more than I. But, I'll be the first to admit that these are extreme challenges. In order for this world class collection to be displayed as is fully deserved, it must be exhibited on the Griffith Park campus. -- Pamela Hannah, Director of American Indian Outreach at Autry National Center
I've been a member of the Southwest Museum since the early 1990s and was married there in 1995. I currently serve as president as the . I have come to speak about both Autry/Griffith Park issues before you and in deference to your time I will address both here. First, please make no further effort to obstruct the award of $6.6 million to further the education of the children of Los Angeles, including my son, 9-year-old Mount Washington resident Forrest Schraff. Second, please consider the history of the friends and their corrosive rhetoric, and threats of lawsuits continuing a pattern of some five years. First, the friends claimed a $100 million accounting scandal, a fraud on the part of Jackie Autry and the Autry National Center. They filed a complaint; the complaint went nowhere. Then, they complained the merger was illegal and null and that the California attorney general would come to the rescue. It has not happened. The attorney general is now the governor. Now, they are threatening the city council with a CEQA lawsuit and waving their fingers in your face and admonishing you to obey the law. So, I ask you, who are these friends? Certainly not friends of the Mount Washington community nor Los Angeles. -- Rob Schraff, President of the Mount Washington Association.
This CEQA appeal is an attempt by a handful of individuals in one neighborhood to deprive the city of Los Angeles of $6.6 million in jobs. The CEQA appeal is their attempt to force the Autry National Center to reopen the Southwest [Museum] site as a fully functioning museum. You've heard, we don't believe that can be done. We believe in a mixed use future. Nicole Possert and Jose Huizar believe this. They've invited us to talk with them. Once again, here's a letter that the Autry sent to councilman Jose Huziar on May 26 of this year; I'd like to enter it into the record. It shows the Autry's continuing commitment to reopen one or two exhibits in the [Southwest Museum]. Finally, we're not gonna dig up the ethno-botanical garden and move it plant by plant to Griffith Park. The exhibitions and the gardens at the [Southwest Museum] stay there. What we're putting in at Griffith Park is something different. Our curator will speak in a little bit to explain what the difference is. It's two places, not one or the other. -- Luke Swetland -- Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Autry National Center